Huge explosion at Mexican chemical plant kills 3, prompts evacuations

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COATZACOALCOS, Mexico — A huge explosion at a petrochemical plant near the Mexican port of Coatzacoalcos Wednesday killed three people, injured more than 100 and prompted evacuations in the area, authorities say.

The blast at the Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo (PMV) facility in the southern state of Veracruz sent large plumes of dark smoke and toxic fumes across the region.

Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte told CNN affiliate Televisa that the blast was felt about 10 kilometers (six miles) away. Emergency protocols were put in place, with a number of surrounding municipalities evacuated and schools closed in others, officials said.

PMV is a joint venture between Mexican petrochemicals consortium Mexichem and state oil firm Pemex.

Pemex said that 136 plant workers were injured in the explosion, of whom 88 remained hospitalized. A government Twitter account showed photos of plant workers being evacuated from the facility in a convoy.

Pemex said on its Twitter account that the fire at the plant had been brought under control by early Wednesday evening, and that the plume of toxic smoke was dissipating quickly.

Veracruz Government spokesman Raul Gutierrez told CNN that emergency personnel were collaborating with Pemex to evaluate the extent of the damage from the explosion.

It’s not clear what caused the blast.

The blast was only the latest of several incidents reported at facilities linked to the Mexican state oil company in recent years.

In 2013, at least 37 people were killed in a blast at Pemex’s headquarters in Mexico City, and a year earlier, dozens were killed in a fire at a Pemex gas facility in the state of Tamaulipas.