A third person -- an infant -- has died in the gas explosion that destroyed much of a maternity and children's hospital in Mexico City, injuring dozens of people, the capital's health minister said Friday.
Armando Ahued said two people, a female nurse and a baby girl only a couple of weeks old, died in the Thursday blast, while the third victim died overnight. Ahued told MVS radio that of the 39 people still hospitalized after the explosion, 18 were listed in critical condition -- half of them babies.
One of the critical patients is a baby with burns on 80% of the body who may be transferred to Texas for specialized care, Ahued said. Another is a nurse who refused to leave her newborn patient behind in the seconds before the explosion, when the strong smell of leaking gas prompted a hasty evacuation. She is on a life-support system, the Reforma newspaper reported.
One nurse told a radio interviewer that she and other colleagues left the babies in their care behind when they evacuated.
The explosion was apparently caused by a large accumulation of gas that had been leaking from a small tanker truck making a routine delivery to the hospital's kitchen, in what is a common if precarious method of supplying gas to Mexico City households and businesses.
Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said three people from the private gas company were being questioned to determine whether there was negligence. Hundreds of people in Mexico have been killed by gas explosions in recent years.
More than 60 children and adults were initially reported to have been injured in the incident, mostly by flying glass and flames.
The explosion happened about 7 a.m., before visiting hours and a shift change to the busier daytime schedule. That, combined with the hospital being relatively small, was believed to have averted a higher casualty toll.
Nearly 70% of the government-run two-story hospital, which caters primarily to middle- and lower-income patients, collapsed or was heavily damaged, Mancera said.