Mexico probes deadly oil rig blast and fire

MEXICO CITY - Mexican authorities launched an investigation Thursday into what caused an explosion and fire on an oil platform operated by state firm Pemex that killed four workers and injured several others.

The attorney general's office said it opened an inquiry into possible crimes including property damage and homicide. It deployed officials from the Criminal Investigation Agency, some specialising in fires, explosives and mechanical engineering.

The ASEA agency, which is in charge of safety in the energy industry, said its own staff began to work after water was poured overnight to cool down the Abkatun A-Permanente platform on the Gulf of Mexico.

The blast took place before dawn on Wednesday at the dehydration and pump section of the rig, and it took almost 16 hours for 10 firefighting vessels to extinguish the blaze.

Pemex said it managed to avoid an oil spill.

Around 300 workers were evacuated to safety during the emergency. Sixteen workers were initially hospitalised, and nine were still being treated on Thursday, including two in serious condition.

It was the latest fatal incident to hit Pemex in recent years. In 2007, two Pemex platforms collided in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 21 workers and causing a large oil spill.