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Explosion strikes headquarters of Mexico's Pemex

By: Stephen Downer

February 1, 2013

MEXICO CITY -- The president of Mexico's largest plastic bag-making organization said Friday he expects supplies of low density polyethylene from state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos to be unaffected by a massive explosion that killed several dozen people and injured 100 others at the company's headquarters in Mexico City.

Juan Antonio Hernández, president of Industriales de Bolsas Plásticas de México AC (Inboplast), a 40-strong group of plastic bag firms, said he had been unable to reach his contacts at Pemex following Thursday afternoon's blast, which wrecked a multistory office building.

But he told Plastics News that "we know the government is taking measures to ensure supplies are unaffected."

Pemex is a major supplier of LDPE in Mexico, while most high density PE is imported, according to national plastics industry association Anipac (Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC).

All 11,000 or so staff members at the Pemex complex were told not to report for work Friday as rescue teams and dogs continued to search for any survivors who might be trapped beneath the rubble.

The explosion in a basement of the B-2 building, which stands beside the 53-story Pemex Tower, occurred shortly before 4 p.m. local time and ripped through several floors.

As experts investigated its cause, the government warned against "irresponsible speculation." Hernández, who also is managing director of Falcon Plastics de México SA de CV in Morelia, believes the blast may have been caused by an exploding boiler, used to heat the building, rather than by a bomb.

"I'm a mechanical engineer and was struck by the fact that after the explosion there was a flash but no smoke, which you would expect with a bomb," he said.