By LAURENCE ILIFF
MEXICO CITY -- A Mexican tanker truck loaded with liquefied
petroleum gas crashed through a guard rail early Tuesday along
a highway just north of Mexico City, plunging into a poor
neighborhood and killing at least 22 people as the gas
One of the two gas tanks broke away from the truck in the
San Pedro Xalostoc neighborhood just off the highway, setting
fire to everything flammable in its path.
The Mexico state government on Wednesday gave a
preliminary death toll of 22, and said 32 others were being
treated in various hospitals, with ages ranging from eight
months to 74 years old. The driver survived and was in the
hospital under arrest.
The truck was identified as belonging to a company called
Termogas, which distributes gas in several Mexican states. The
company's website was offline Tuesday, and company phones
weren't being answered.
The driver, Juan Olivares, 36, was heading to Mexico City
from Pachuca, a city to the north, when he hit the center
divider, said Jose Luis Cervantes, assistant prosecutor for the
state of Mexico, the Associated Press reported.
Juan Valentin Maldonado Torres, 42 years old, said he and
his family were sleeping when they heard an explosion at around
5:30 a.m. and awoke to find their roof on fire.
"We ran, we ran for our lives," he said in front of his
destroyed home, which sits several yards from the highway along
a muddy stream.
His sons, age 3 and 5, ran for the door as he scooped up his
wife and 11-year-old daughter. The five slept in one room, with
the children on bunk beds that were charred to their metal
springs from the blaze.
Mr. Maldonado said five of the houses destroyed belonged to
relatives of his, and that two relatives had been taken to the
State and federal police, fire brigades, ambulances and army
rescue teams doused fires and rushed away victims following the
blast. Later, civil-defense brigades began to remove dead
animals, and the government electricity company began to
restore power lines.
President Enrique Pena Nieto said he ordered the
Communications and Transport Ministry to conduct a review of
conditions next to the highway to take measures to improve
Dow Jones Newswires