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Two dead in explosion at Mexico City oil plant

May 2, 1997

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ An underground explosion at an oil distribution plant in the capital sent flames bursting into the air, killing two workers and injuring three others.

The incident comes less than five months after a fire at another Petroleos Mexicanos fuel plant in Mexico City killed four people and consumed 4.2 million gallons of gasoline.

The state-run oil monopoly, known as Pemex, said the workers Thursday died after ``an underground explosion occurred which caused soil to shift, trapping five workers.″

The injured workers were reported to be in stable condition.

The five men, which included employees from a Pemex contractor, were welding pipes in a trench at the Western Satellite plant when the explosion shook the ground and flames shot into the pit.

``The Western Satellite plant did not suffer any damage as a result of the accident, which occurred at a distance from storage tanks,″ according to the Pemex statement.

The statement said there was no danger to surrounding neighborhoods, adding that Mexico City authorities had been asked to begin an investigation.

Critics say recent explosions at Pemex facilities are the result of poor maintenance.

Seven workers were killed in a massive July 26, 1996, explosion at a Pemex natural gas plant in the southern state of Chiapas. It also occurred as workers were carrying out repairs.

The last explosion in Mexico City, on Nov. 11, 1996, was caused by a defective valve on a storage tank, according to Pemex.

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