Mexico City Explosion: 2 killed, 73 injured including 21 babies that were rushed to other hospitals
A paramedic holds the hands of a newborn as his colleague attends to the baby's mother, who was evacuated from the maternity and children's hospital in Cuajimalpa, on the outskirts of Mexico City, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. The woman give birth to her baby in the ambulance after a powerful gas tank truck explosion shattered the maternity and children's hospital on the western edge of Mexico's capital, killing at least three adults and one baby and injuring dozens. (AP Photo)
A woman and child were killed and 73 people were injured in the blast that collapsed about three-fourths of the hospital, Mexico City officials said. By late in the day, rescuers determined no one was left trapped in the rubble.
The explosion occurred at 7:05 a.m. when a tanker truck was making a routine delivery of gas to the hospital kitchen and gas started to leak. Witnesses said the tanker workers struggled frantically for 15 or 20 minutes to repair the leak while a large cloud of gas formed.
"The hose broke. The two gas workers tried to stop it, but they were very nervous. They yelled for people to get out," said Laura Diaz Pacheco, a laboratory technician.
"Everyone's initial reaction was to go inside, away from the gas," she added. "Maybe as many as 10 of us were able to get out ... The rest stayed inside."
Workers on the truck yelled: "Call the firefighters, call the firefighters!" said anesthesiologist Agustin Herrera.
People started to evacuate the hospital, and then came a devastating explosion that sent up an enormous fireball and plumes of dust and smoke. Herrera saw injured mothers walking out carrying babies. Officials said 110 people were inside the 35-bed hospital when the truck blew up.
"We avoided a much bigger tragedy because the oxygen tanks right beside (the area) didn't explode," Herrera said.
The worst hit parts of the hospital were the neonatology, reception and emergency reception units, he said.
Margarita Palma of Amexgas, a trade association of Mexico's propane distributors, said 80 percent of Mexicans use propane rather than natural gas delivered by mains. Liquified propane, which is highly explosive, is distributed to homes and businesses either by trucks like the one that exploded or in cylinders, she said.
Homes next to the hospital had broken and cracked windows and fallen shingles from the blast, and many neighbors ran to help evacuate victims from the debris, local resident Carlos Soria Rezendiz said.
As the day wore on, people arrived at Hospital ABC offering diapers and baby formula. There was an hour-long wait to donate blood.
It was the closest hospital to the explosion and received 31 patients, including 17 children.
There were seven babies with serious injuries in intensive care, said Dr. Moises Zielanowski, the hospital's director of operations, as well as four adults in serious condition. Injuries included burns, fractures and bruises.
He said the hospital was working to identify six of the babies who arrived unaccompanied and without identification.
The gas truck driver and two other employees of the Express Nieto company were hospitalized but were in custody, Mancera said. He said the company has provided gas to all the city's public hospitals since 2007.