With 24 hours elapsed after Thursday morning’s explosion that took down most of a Mexico City children’s and maternity hospital, three of the four dailies that fronted the story went with the latest news angle, described in a word by Excelsior’s headline: “Negligence.” The exception was El Universal, which gave the basic story in its lead head: “Explosion at hospital leaves three dead.” Milenio fronted only a photo of the leveled hospital.
The tragedy happened as follows: Most homes and businesses in Mexico City don’t receive their gas for cooking and heating via an underground network of pipes; they’re supplied by trucks delivering either small exchangeable tanks or filling through hoses larger permanent tanks in the home or business, usually on the roof. It was the latter type of tank truck, called a pipa, that arrived at 6:50 a.m. at the hospital, located in the borough of Cuajimalpa in the southwest of the city, for a routine fill-up. At 7:01 a.m. fire department officials were notified of a gas leak at the hospital. At 7:09 the truck exploded.
A mother and newborn were killed immediately. More than 70 others were injured, at least 14 of them seriously. A Universal sub-head mentioned the heroism of the rescue workers and the general populace that flocked in such numbers to give blood that authorities later in the day had to ask them to stay away from the blood banks. Enrique Mauro Vera, a police officer who was one of the first on the scene, rushed to the incubation area and carried a newborn with head trauma out for paramedic help. His action was captured on film and a blurry still (above) circulated widely on Mexican web sites.
It was that baby who later in the day was identified as the third death.
NOW COMES THE INVESTIGATION
La Jornada’s head reads “Irresponsibility in the Cuajimalpa tragedy.” Reforma went with “Negligence investigated.” The three operators of the pipa were taken to the city attorney’s office for questioning.
The gas supply company itself, known as Gas Express Nieto, is also under investigation. A major enterprise with a presence in most of the nation, Nieto has been cited for a number of safety incidents in recent years. The most serious was in July of last year, when a Nieto tank truck sprung a leak after passing over a speed bump in the city of Querérato. The resulting explosion left three dead.
EVEN HARDER TIMES AHEAD?
La Jornada’s lead head this morning — “Videgary will announce today large cuts in public spending” — makes a prediction about Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray’s planned communications today. If the cuts are announced, the implications will color headlines for many months, perhaps for the rest of the Peña Nieto administration.
The drastic drop in oil prices, the weakening of the peso against the dollar, ongoing anemic growth and uncertainty about interest rates are just some of an assortment of factors damaging the Mexican economy and reducing government revenue.