Investigators search for cause of deadly blast at candy factory in Mexico

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by Angela Kocherga / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 9:17 PM

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- Investigators are combing through piles of rubble to find the cause of a deadly explosion at a candy factory in Ciudad Juarez.

The blast killed two people and injured about 50 workers Thursday.

“Since yesterday at five in the morning when he left for work I haven’t seen him. I haven’t heard anything,” said Rosario de la Torre Mesa whose son works at the plant.

During his shift a fiery explosion rocked the building and the 2ND floor of the factory collapsed.

Miguel Angel de la Torre Mesa, 20, the father of two young children has been missing since. His mother and other relatives have been calling area hospitals searching for him since the explosion.

“I thought it was the end of the world,” said Josefina Salas, who lives near the candy factory.

She said the blast broke one of her windows and kicked up a huge cloud of dust into the air.

Salas nephew who works at the plant was able to escape without injuries.

The explosion injured about 50 other workers. Witnesses said there were not enough ambulances to take everyone to the hospital. Five workers remain in critical condition and may be transferred to burn units in Guadalajara, Monterrey or possibly the U.S.

About 300 people work at the Dulces Blueberry factory which makes hard candy for Sunrise Confections, an El Paso based subsidiary of Mount Franklin Foods.

Neither the U.S. company or Mexican factory has issued a public statement about the explosion or investigation.

“The only thing they do is lock themselves up,” de la Torre said. “They don’t say anything.”

Chihuahua State investigators are now handling the case.

“I can’t say for sure. But for now that’s all,” said Adrian Lopez, an Engineer with the Civil Protection Brigade, who said authorities had not discovered any more bodies.

One body was pulled from the rubble during rescue efforts. A 19-year-old worker died at the hospital.

Lopez examined the building after the explosion and said he does not suspect a natural gas explosion.

As the investigation begins, questions are growing about the cause, safety at the plant, and the emergency response in a border city that is home to hundreds of maquiladoras or factories that manufacture products for U.S. and other foreign companies.

“They hire people but don’t think of their safety,” de la Torre said.

While she’s lost faith in his employer, she has not given up hope she’ll find her son.

“God willing, he’ll come home,” de la Torre said.

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