(Updates details on injured, previous Pemex accidents)
By Ana Isabel Martinez
MEXICO CITY Nov 24 A fire broke out at Mexico's
biggest oil refinery on Tuesday and some staff were evacuated, a
spokesman for state-run oil company Pemex said, the latest in a
string of incidents to hit the company's refineries.
The Red Cross said nine people were injured, while Pemex
said eight people suffered minor injuries and were being
A Pemex spokesman said the fire had been controlled and that
the refinery, which supplies fuel for the domestic market, was
operating normally except for an alkylation unit. The refinery
has the capacity to process 330,000 barrels per day.
Photographs taken by emergency services workers showed a
blazing fireball and a thick black plume of smoke rising up into
the sky from the facility located in the city of Salina Cruz in
the southern state of Oaxaca.
Luis Velazquez, a civil protection agency official in
Oaxaca, said that nearby schools had been evacuated and that
local hospitals were on red alert to treat any injured.
"This is a highly populated zone," he said.
Pemex said last week it had reduced its annual accident rate
last year by more than 33 percent. However, a Reuters
investigation earlier this year found that Pemex was reducing
its accident rate by including hours worked by office staff in
The key international indicator for measuring worker safety
is the so-called lost time injury frequency (LTIF). Pemex says
its LTIF decreased by about 88 percent in 2014 from 2013,
falling from 3.14 to 0.37 injuries and fatalities per million
man hours, according to data released in July by the
International Association of Oil and Gas producers (IOGP).
That rate fell markedly because Pemex reported an additional
330 million man hours worked in 2014 - an almost seven-fold
increase from the year earlier - even as its production
decreased for the tenth year in a row.
There have been a series of fires at Pemex installations
including refineries and oil platforms this year alone, which
come as Mexico seeks to lure private investors to revive its
flagging oil industry.
Accidents have plagued Pemex for years. In 2013, at least 37
people were killed by a blast at Pemex's Mexico City
headquarters, and another 26 people died in a fire at a Pemex
natural gas facility in northern Mexico in September 2012.
(With additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Elinor Comlay.
Editing by Michael O'Boyle, Simon Gardner, David Gregorio and