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Gas tanker truck explodes outside Mexico City, kills 19

MYT 3:25:01 AM

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A gas tanker truck exploded on a highway north of Mexico City early on Tuesday, killing at least 19 people and injuring 36 others as a fireball tore through cars and homes.

Pablo Bedolla, mayor of the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec, said 19 people died in the blast that engulfed early morning traffic. Television footage showed burned out vehicles and debris strewn all over the highway on the edge of the capital.

Part of a gas tanker truck lies in between two houses after its explosion in San Pedro Xalostoc, on the outskirts of Mexico City May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
Part of a gas tanker truck lies in between two houses after its explosion in San Pedro Xalostoc, on the outskirts of Mexico City May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

"It was a ball of fire which exploded as though they'd put a spotlight in the whole window," resident Carlos Gonzalez Silva told Mexican radio. "We opened the door and it was like fire had blown through the whole of the garden."

Arturo Vilchis, head of emergency services in the State of Mexico, which abuts the capital, said 36 people were injured and that 13 of them had been hospitalized. Twenty homes and 16 vehicles were damaged by the explosion, he added.

Mexican radio station Formato 21 said a family of four, including two children aged 11 and 6, were among the dead.

In January, a massive blast at the headquarters of state oil giant Pemex in downtown Mexico City claimed dozens of lives.

Media reports said the gas tanker did not belong to Pemex. The state oil company said it would help the company involved in rescue efforts.

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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