Police and public prosecutors in the Dominican Republic say a deadly afternoon explosion in the downtown area of the city of San Cristóbal Aug. 14 occurred in a plastics recycling plant called Vidal Plast srl and killed 31 people.
Confusion had reigned for several days over the source of the blast and the number of fatalities, but in a joint statement Aug. 18 the Caribbean nation's main crime-fighting bodies, the Ministerio Público and Policia Nacional, implicated Vidal Plast and said "several people," whom they did not name, were under investigation.
Fadulia Rosa Rubio, San Cristóbal's chief prosecutor, described the explosion as a tragedy in the statement posted on the internet and added that the Ministerio Público had evidence of "criminal irresponsibility" that had "caused the deaths of dozens of people and provoked [economic] losses running into millions."
She said authorities could prove that last March another fire had broken out in the same facility "as a result of sparks coming into contact with a chemical." Those responsible for Vidal Plast did nothing to address and correct the problem despite being aware of the high risk of their operations, she alleged.
Online newspaper N Digital reported that the company was founded in 2003, according to the Associated Press. N Digital quoted one of the company's founders as saying that the factory was not operating on the day of the blast and that two of its employees were simply removing material from the site when the explosion occurred. One of them was killed.
San Cristobal is 17 miles southwest of Santo Domingo, the capital.