Gas tanker truck explodes outside Mexico City, kills 20

MEXICO CITY Tue May 7, 2013 3:29pm EDT

1 of 4. Firefighters try to extinguish a fire caused by the explosion of a gas tanker truck in San Pedro Xalostoc, on the outskirts of Mexico City May 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A gas tanker truck exploded on a highway north of Mexico City early on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 30 others as a fireball tore through cars and homes.

Pablo Bedolla, mayor of the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec, said 20 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.

"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."

Bedolla said 33 people had been injured by the blast and 45 houses damaged. Emergency services in the State of Mexico, which abuts the capital, said 16 vehicles were hit by the explosion.

President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed his condolences for the victims of the blast.

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 and Sandra Maler)