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3 dead, dozens injured as blast rocks Coatzacoalcos facility

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MEXICO CITY — A blast at an oil facility in south-eastern Mexico has killed at least three workers, injured 30 more and triggered a mass evacuation, officials and state-run energy giant Pemex said.

A huge plume of toxic grey smoke could be seen spewing from the plant known as Pajaritos, in the city of Coatzacoalcos.

The blast, which was felt from as far as 10 kilometres away, forced the evacuation of nearby schools and businesses.

The cause of the explosion at the Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo plant was not immediately known. The facility is jointly owned by Pemex.

Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte told Milenio Television that the blast killed three people at the plant.

Mr Duarte rushed to the scene of what he said was “a very strong explosion”, as fire crews were battling to bring the fierce blaze under control.

People living in the vicinity were ordered to remain indoors.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Twitter that the government would help the “affected workers and neighbours of the area.”

Fires at oil facilities in Mexico are fairly regular occurrences.

In February, two people were killed and at least seven injured in a blaze at a Pemex oil platform off the coast of Campeche, also in the south-east.

AFP

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Two held on charge of girls trafficking

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BETRAWATI— Police have arrested two persons for their alleged involvement in trafficking five adolescent girls aged between 13 to 16 — to India.

The arrestees have been identified as Nirmal Biswakarma (23) of Bheriganga Municipality-12 of Surkhet and Bikas Pyakurel (20) of Chaughada in Likhu Rural Municipality-4 of Nuwakot.

The Surkhet Police had arrested Biswokarma from his home while rescuing the captive girls on Friday and produced him before court on Saturday.

Likewise, acting on the statement of the captive girls, police arrested Pyakurel from Battar Bazaar, Nuwakot on Sunday.

According to District Police Office Chief Basanta Kunwar, a case related to human trafficking was registered against them on Sunday and investigation into the case was expedited from the Nuwakot District Court.

It has been learnt that the duo lured the girls, on their way to play Bhailo on Laxmi Puja, by promising them good jobs in India and transported them to Surkhet.

The rescued girls have been kept at a shelter of Women and Children Service Centre of Nepal Police.

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