Toll in Mexico gas explosion rises to three

Mexico City, Jan 30 (IANS/EFE) The toll in the powerful gas explosion that destroyed a maternity and children’s hospital in Mexico City, has risen to three 73 others were injured, 20 of them newborns.

The huge explosion occurred Thursday due to a major leak in the hose carrying gas from the truck to the building, Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said.
Firefighters were summoned when the leak could not be contained by workers of Gas Express Nieto, a company that has provided service to the Mexico City government since 2007.
When firefighters began their work and people started to abandon the hospital, a huge explosion took place, causing practically the entire building to collapse and damaging nearby houses.
Neighbours rushed to the scene to help the victims, while personnel from civil protection, defence and the police slowly began to arrive on the scene.
The area was cordoned off and rescue operations began in a bid to reach anyone who may have been trapped under the rubble.
Initially, authorities reported seven people dead but later corrected the figures once they realised that some people left unconscious by the explosion were mistakenly counted as dead.
Among the dead are two babies, three weeks and six months old respectively, and a 25-year old woman, said Mexico City’s Health Secretary Armando Ahued.
Of the 73 injured, nine babies as well as seven adults are reportedly in serious condition and people injured in the blast were evacuated by land and air to other hospitals in the city.
“The priority is to attend to the victims and search for people trapped in the rubble,” said Mancera, who added that digging and lifting was being done by hand with the help of specially trained sniffer dogs.
About a thousand people are involved in the rescue operations, said the mayor, who reached the disaster spot to personally coordinate the operations.
“Fortunately we were able to get three people and three babies out of there,” a neighbour who rushed to the spot after the explosion, told Efe news agency.
A video of the explosion made by an eyewitness, as well as pictures of a policeman rescuing a baby from the rubble, were uploaded on social networking sites.
The explosion destroyed a major part of the hospital, but an even greater tragedy was averted as only a score of workers were at the facility at that early hour.
Mexico City is deeply upset, the mayor said, after expressing his solidarity with the victims and thanking Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for his support and Pope Francis for his message.
“Let us pray for the victims of the explosion at the hospital in Cuajimalpa, Mexico, and for their family members, that the Lord may grant them peace and strength,” Pope Francis had earlier written on his Spanish-language Twitter account.
In a statement, Gas Express Nieto expressed its solidarity with the victims and said that it was complying with work norms and the established protocols right from the beginning.
The three operators of the gas tanker truck have been detained to review their responsibility in the blast, although two of them sustained serious injuries.