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FBI: No sabotage in Puerto Rico tank explosion

The FBI says there's no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in last week's explosion at a Puerto Rico fuel depot.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The FBI said Friday there is no evidence of sabotage in last week's explosion at a Puerto Rico fuel depot, which burned for more than two days and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people.

A leak of gasoline vapor caused the blast at the Caribbean Petroleum Corp. facility near the U.S. territory's capital, San Juan, according to Luis Fraticelli, the FBI special agent in charge for the island.

He said that more than 240 investigators looked into the explosion and did not find evidence it was intentional. But Fraticelli said authorities are still investigating whether negligence was involved.

"Since this is a federal investigation, the word 'accident' will not be used," Fraticelli said at a news conference.

The explosion shortly after midnight on Oct. 23 shattered windows and sent tremors across San Juan. The fire destroyed 21 of the depot's 40 fuel storage tanks and sent up a plume of thick, black smoke. More than 600 people were evacuated out of fears of contamination, but there were no deaths.

Immediately before the blast, a tanker ship had released 228,000 gallons of fuel into the tanks, which caused an overflow, according to Fraticelli. An unidentified spark then ignited the vapors.

Federal and local agents questioned more than 100 people, including company employees and they investigated leads including graffiti found after the blast in a highway tunnel in the capital with the message: "Boom, fire, RIP, Gulf."

Caribbean Petroleum supplies 200 Gulf gas stations in Puerto Rico.