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Chlorine Plant Explodes, 1 Dead, 240 Hurt

March 11, 1991

COATZACOALCOS, Mexico (AP) _ An explosion set fire to a chlorine plant near this southern city today, and hospital and Red Cross officials said at least one person was killed and more than 240 were injured.

Most of the injuries were minor, said a staff member at the Pemex clinic in Coatzacoalcos, where 200 people were treated.

Vania Munoz, a spokeswoman for the plant’s owner, Petroleos Mexicanos, S.A., declined to comment on injuries or estimate the damage.

The explosion occurred at 8:40 a.m. in pipes in a petrochemical plant at Pajaritos, near the gulf coast city of Coatzacoalcos, 300 miles southeast of Mexico City, a statement by the Pemex clinic said.

Flames reached more than 100 feet high and a column of smoke billowed up more than 1,000 feet, the Excelsior news service said.

Manuel Avila y Avila, the Red Cross chief in Coatzacoalcos, said 30 people were taken to the Social Security Hospital there, and 13 others were treated and released by the Red Cross.

Most of the injuries were minor cuts and bruises, he said. Injured people also were taken to other hospitals and clinics in the area, he said.

Five schools were evacuated and pupils were sent home for the day, the news service said. It said electricity was off in parts of the city.

The army cordoned off the area, and firefighting crews from other plants were brought in to fight the fire, Pemex said.

Update hourly