At least 10 killed in Mexico gas plant fire

At least 10 people were killed when a fire erupted at a gas plant owned by Mexican energy giant Pemex near the US border on Tuesday, in the state monopoly's worst accident in two years.

Television images showed huge flames and plumes of smoke billowing from the site, located near Reynosa, a city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas that sits across from the Texas town of McCallen.

The Tamaulipas civil protection director, Pedro Benavides, told reporters that the incident also injured some people who were rushed to a hospital, but he did not say how many.

The fire, which broke out at 10:45 am (1545 GMT), is the third incident at a Pemex facility in little over a month.

"Petroleos Mexicanos regrets to report that at this moment the death of 10 people has been confirmed," a company statement said, noting that their experts are investigating the cause of the incident.

Pemex did not say if the victims were company workers or firefighters.

The damaged plant receives gas from the Burgos basin and distributes the product to Pemex's gas and petrochemicals unit. A pipeline and control valves were damaged by the fire and specialists are reviewing the damage.

Pemex shut off valves while firefighters arrived to put out the blaze, which was extinguished two hours after it began.

On August 13, an explosion rocked a refinery in the Tamaulipas city of Ciudad Madero, and on the same day a fire broke out at a pipeline in the central state of Hidalgo after thieves apparently tried to steal diesel from it. No injuries were reported in either incident.

The previous worst incident took place in December 2010, when an oil pipeline exploded after it was punctured by thieves in the central town of San Martin Texmelucan, leaving 29 dead, injuring more than 50 and destroying 32 homes.

In October 2007, 21 Pemex workers died during a gas leak on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Most drowned when they jumped into the sea in a panic.

Pemex, which accounts for 40 percent of Mexico's government revenue, was once the world's fourth biggest oil company.

But it has waned in the last 15 years, falling to 11th place in terms of production with 2.55 million barrels of oil per day in 2011.

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