A tanker truck carrying gasoline exploded near Mexico City Tuesday morning, reportedly killing at least 20 people. The explosion, which early reports indicate was an accident, occurred after 5 a.m. local time on the busy highway between Mexico City and Pachuca.
“A huge piece of the truck’s gas tank was blown 50 yards by the force of the blast, landing atop the wall of a house and cars parked outside. Charred wreckage of cars littered the blast site,” the AP reports. “Hundreds of police, ambulance drivers, paramedics, soldiers and firefighters gathered at the scene, where a giant plume of smoke rose over the area.”
People driving through the area after the explosion recorded video of what they saw: flames consuming vehicles on the road, and buildings set ablaze by the wreckage.
According to the newspaper Aristegui Noticias, 20 bodies have been recovered — 16 in a building along the highway, and four on the other side of the road. The driver of the tanker reportedly survived — he is now being treated at a hospital, where Aristegui reports he has been detained.
“The blast rocked a neighborhood of Ecatepec, north of the Mexican capital, in the early hours of the day, injuring at least 36 people while affecting 15 cars and 27 homes, the mayor and a Mexico state official said,” according to a report from Agence France-Presse.
Details about the cause of the explosion are still uncertain; officials just concluded a news conference about the accident. The death toll may rise as search teams go through the area. On Twitter, Ecatepec Mayor Pablo Bedolla said that 45 houses were damaged.