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Major pipeline explosion kills 30 near Texas-Mexico border

As we often discuss, serious accidents occur during the construction and maintenance of pipelines, many involving fires and explosions. In a tragic example of this, a gas pipeline explosion just south of the Texas border in Mexico left 30 dead and 46 injured on Tuesday afternoon. The blast occurred at a natural gas distribution center outside the border city of Reynosa.

The plant is owned by Petroleos Mexicanos. Officials from Pemex, as it is called, said that the explosion was caused by an "accidental leak." They said four of the workers killed in the blast were employees of the company, while the rest were said to be employed by contractors. Federal investigators arrived at the scene yesterday and are currently interviewing witnesses in effort to piece together what happened.

According to Pemex officials, the blast was caused when a valve apparently failed while workers were performing routine testing where pipelines from gas wells in Burgos basin come together close to the Texas border. They said the fire, which reportedly reached the size of a three-story home, has since been extinguished and the pipeline has been shut off.

In the wake of the explosion, surviving workers have told stories of their terrifying escapes from the heat and flames. One 18-year-old worker said he and co-workers fled the facility on foot and were forced to climb a steep wall. This was made more dangerous by razor wire that sits atop the walls surrounding the facility as a way to keep thieves out.

The 18-year-old worker said he does not recall hearing an alarm system going off before or after the explosion. He said that nothing appeared out of the ordinary until the ground shook beneath his feet and a fire ignited. Sadly, many workers weren't as lucky.

Family members gathered at the site of the blast with the duty of identifying loved ones. The director of a local hospital said he has no recollection of an event this serious ever occurring in the area, where hospitals lacked enough beds for the injured.

Source: UTICAOD.com, "Gas pipeline on Mexican border explodes; 30 killed, 46 injured," Christopher Sherman, Sept. 20, 2012

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