Worn-Out Bolts Blamed for Deadly Blast at Mexican Maternity Hospital

Workers removed rubble a day after the Jan. 29 gas tank truck exploding at a maternity hospital in Mexico City.Rebecca Blackwell / AP - file

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An explosion that killed five people, including two children, at a Mexico City maternity hospital last month was caused when two bolts ruptured on a gas truck, authorities said Monday.

The bolts were badly stress-fatigued because of poor maintenance, and the gas company could face millions of dollars in fines, they said.

Three gas company employees, including the truck's driver, were arrested after the Jan. 29 explosion, which also injured more than 70 other people at the hospital in Cuajimalpa, in western Mexico City.

Rodolfo Rios Garza, the Mexico City chief prosecutor, said at a news conference Monday that the investigation could lead to murder, injury and wrongful damage charges against several people in the coming days. Among the evidence of negligence, he said, were the use of incorrectly sized bolts and the jerry-rigging of valve installations using wire and tape.

Mexican Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell said the government had opened a separate investigation of the gas company, Gas Express Nieto, that could lead to revocation of its license and fines up to 42.6 million pesos, or about $2.85 million U.S. The company could also be ordered to pay compensation to victims' families, Coldwell said.



— M. Alex Johnson