September 10, 2007

Mexican Truck Explosion now lists 40 Dead.

Dynamite-laden truck explodes after collision in northern Mexico; 34 killed

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico (AP) — A dynamite-laden truck exploded after colliding with another vehicle on a busy highway in northern Mexico, killing at least 34 people, including three reporters at the scene, state and federal officials said Monday.

Authorities said the two vehicles crashed into each other Sunday evening, drawing a crowd of curious onlookers as well as a small army of police, soldiers, emergency officials and journalists.

Shortly after the crowd arrived, the wreckage caught fire, and the dynamite exploded, sending a ball of fire into the sky, said Maximo Alberto Neri Lopez, a federal police official.

He said the explosion and fire consumed nearby cars and left a three-by-12-metre crater in the concrete.

More than 150 people were injured, although details on their conditions were not immediately available.

The force of the explosion blew out the windows of a passenger bus 400 metres away.

The dead included three newspaper reporters from the nearby city of Monclova, said Luis Horacio de Hoyos of the Coahuila state Attorney General's Office.

It was unclear if the explosive truck's driver was among the dead. Early reports said he may have fled.

Coahuila state has a large mining industry, most of it in coal.

The explosion raised further questions about the safety of Mexican trucks.

This weekend, Mexico began sending its first tractor-trailers across U.S. territory under a long-delayed, NAFTA-mandated program. Previously, Mexican trucks had been limited to 40-kilometre zone along the border.

Many in the U.S. fought the change, arguing that Mexican trucks are unsafe.

The truck that exploded in Coahuila did not appear to be headed for the United States. It had recently left an Orica explosives plant and was headed west to Coquimatlan, Colima, a federal police officer told The Associated Press by telephone.

A woman who answered the phone at Orica's offices in Monclova said all company officials were at a meeting, and she could not comment.

The company is based in Australia and has operations in 50 countries across six continents.

UPDATE: 4 Hours ago

MEXICO CITY, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- A truck loaded with 25 tons of dynamite crashed late Sunday against a pick-up and blew up at northern Mexican state of Coahuila highway killing some 40 people and injuring 100, police reported on Monday.

The dynamite-loaded truck turned over due to the crash and started burning and immediately exploded causing a two-meter deep and 10-meter wide crater.

The tragedy occurred near the Celemonia locality at the Monclova-Cuatro Cienegas highway, Coahuila's Attorney General Juctice department stated.

The high death toll was triggered by onlookers' curiosity that came too close to the accident site, others died on-the-job duty, including reporters and drivers.

The expansive explosion wave damaged many nearby vehicles and house windows.

Local officials mobilized firemen, rescue teams and military troops to the site of the accident.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent a condolence message from New Delhi, India, where he is on official visit.

Earlier media versions stated that 37 people had died and 150 were injured due to the tragic accident.

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