MEXICO CITY (AP) - A fuel line exploded along a highway in
eastern Mexico on Thursday, injuring scores of people and killing
several, according to officials in the area.
Fifteen people died in the explosion, according to Pedro
Mejilla, shift chief for the federal highway police in Orizaba, one
of numerous agencies trying to rescue the injured Thursday night.
But Red Cross commander Gerardo Sanz in the same city, about 15
kilometers (10 miles) east of the explosion, said that while he had
heard reports of deaths, they were unconfirmed.
"Dozens and dozens" were injured, Mejilla said.
Authorities agreed that the explosion occurred along a gas or
fuel line near the town of Maltrata in a mountainous area about 190
kilometers (115 miles) southeast of Mexico City, though there were
varying accounts of what caused it: a truck crash, an avalanche or
a storm-swollen river.
Mejilla said it occurred near several roadside restaurants and
he said several tractor-trailer rigs and small buildings were
burned.
He said the incident, which occurred at roughly 8 p.m. (2100
EDT), forced closure of the main Mexico City-Veracruz expressway
for more than two hours.
Sanz said the terrain made radio communication with rescuers
difficult.
Jorge Garcia Perez, director-general of the Red Cross for the
city of Cordoba, said his agency had sent several ambulances 40
kilometers (25 miles) west to the explosion site.
"It seems there are about 100 injured, 15 of them seriously,"
he said by telephone.
A spokeswoman for the Veracruz state government, Silvia Lara,
said officials there did not yet have details of the incident but
that they had sent a helicopter to the scene.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)