Source: Agencies | 2013-2-2 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
EMERGENCY services worked into the early hours yesterday to find people trapped in rubble under state oil company Pemex's headquarters in Mexico City after an explosion that killed at least 32 people and injured 121.
Scenes of confusion and chaos at the downtown tower dealt yet another blow to Pemex's image as Mexico's new president courts outside investment for the 75-year-old monopoly.
Search and rescue workers picked through debris, and investigators sifted through shattered glass and concrete at the bottom of the building to try to find what caused the blast. It was not clear how many might still be trapped inside.
Pemex, a symbol of Mexican self-sufficiency as well as a byword in Mexico for security glitches, oil theft and frequent accidents, has been hamstrung by inefficiency, union corruption and a series of safety failures costing hundreds of lives.
Thursday's blast at the 51-story skyscraper that houses administrative offices followed a September fire at a Pemex gas facility near the northern city of Reynosa which killed 30 people. More than 300 were killed when a Pemex natural gas plant on the outskirts of Mexico City blew up in 1984.
Eight years later, about 200 people were killed and 1,500 injured after a series of underground gas explosions in Guadalajara, Mexico's second-biggest city. An official investigation found Pemex was partly to blame.
Pemex initially flagged Thursday's incident as a problem with its electricity supply and then said there had been an explosion.
But it did not give a cause for the blast.
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a preliminary line of inquiry suggested a gas boiler had blown up in a Pemex building just to the side of the main tower.