Four more bodies have been found at the Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo SA de CV facility in Coatzacoalcos, taking the confirmed death toll from the explosion that devastated the plant to 28.
Search and recovery teams have been using drones in the most damaged parts of the Clorados III area where the April 20 explosion occurred, PMV joint owners Mexichem SAB de CV and Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) said late April 22.
“So far the bodies of 25 deceased have been identified and handed over to their families and three more are pending identification” [through DNA tests], Mexichem and Pemex said in a joint news release.
Eighteen people remained hospitalized, they added.
The company declared force majeure late April 22 for VCM, muriatic acid, ethylene, dichloroethane, and anhydrous hydrogen chloride shipped from the facility.
A PMV spokesman said PMV's annual production is 170,000 tons.
“We still do not know the full extent of the damage to the VCM/ethylene plant in the Clorados III area inside the Pajaritos petrochemical complex and its effects in this region” [of Veracruz],” the company said in an emailed statement.
“At this time PMV cannot predict with any precision when repairs will be completed or when the unit will be operational, or what its impact” [will be].
“PMV will provide additional information on this incident as it becomes available and shall continue working diligently to minimize the impact caused by this event.”
The statement was addressed to PMV's customers and signed by Fernando Atilio Torres Della Mea, PMV's chief financial officer.
The explosion occurred at 3:15 p.m. local time in the Clorados III area inside Pemex's Pajaritos complex. Mexichem is one of the world's largest manufacturers of PVC pipe. It has operations in 30 countries and employs 19,200 at 100 different sites.
More victims of a catastrophic explosion at a petrochemical plant in the Gulf state of Veracruz April 20 may still lie beneath the ruins, company officials have indicated.
By early April 24, 28 bodies had been recovered from the devastated Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo SA de CV (PMV) plant in Coatzocoalcos and 26 of those had been identified, the officials said in a news release.
Tellingly, they added that “priority is being given to the search for the missing people and assisting their families.” They did not stipulate how many people they believed were still unaccounted for.
Heavy equipment, drones and specialist tracker dogs are being used to comb the site, Mexichem SAB de CV and Petróleos Mexicanos, joint owners of the PMV facility, added in a news release.