Ferry explosion in Mexico resort town caused by homemade explosive: newspaper

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A blast that injured more than two dozen in February in the Mexican resort town Playa del Carmen was caused by a home-made explosive, a leading Mexican newspaper reported on Saturday, citing an official investigation.

The explosion appeared to have been triggered from a distance and may have been made by someone with knowledge of mining materials, according to Mexican newspaper El Universal, citing an investigation conducted by the Mexican attorney general’s office and the marine secretary.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The explosion on a ferry docked at a Playa del Carmen pier injured at least 25, including U.S. tourists.

Shortly before spring break, when thousands of U.S. college students descend on Mexican beach towns, the U.S. government on Wednesday barred its employees from traveling to Playa del Carmen, citing an unspecified “security threat” and mentioning the blast.

On Friday, the U.S. government updated the ban, limiting it to certain neighborhoods in Playa del Carmen. The U.S. State Department advises tourists to exercise “increased caution” in the state of Quintana Roo.

Local media reported that the ferry was operated by Barcos Caribe, which is owned by the family of former Quintana Roo governor Roberto Borge, who was extradited from Panama to Mexico in January to face corruption charges.

Barcos Caribe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

No motive for the explosion has been suggested yet, and both federal and state officials are still investigating.

Playa del Carmen is located about 46 miles (76 km) south of Cancun, the centerpiece of a strip of white sand beaches that is one of Latin America’s top tourist destinations.

In recent years, Mexican tourist destinations have been tainted by the country’s long-running battle against drug cartels. Murder rates have soared in both Pacific resort Acapulco and Los Cabos, a popular stretch of beaches and desert on the southern tip of Baja California.

Reporting by Julia Love, Lizbeth Diaz and Miguel Gutierrez; editing by Diane Craft