1992 Guadalajara explosions
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Location of Guadalajara
|Date||April 22, 1992|
|Time||10:05 - 11:16 (UTC-5)|
|Location||Analco, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico|
|Also known as||Guadalajara gasoline explosion|
|Property damage||thousands of homes affected|
|Convictions||4 Pemex officials charged for negligence|
The 1992 Guadalajara explosions took place on April 22, 1992, in the downtown district of Analco. Numerous gasoline explosions in the sewer system over four hours destroyed 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) of streets. Gante Street was the most damaged. Officially, by the Lloyd's of London accounting, 252 people were killed, nearly 500 injured and 15,000 were left homeless. The estimated monetary damage ranges between $300 million and $1 billion. The affected areas can be recognized by the more modern architecture in the areas that were destroyed.
Four days before the explosion, residents started complaining of a strong gasoline-like smell coming from the sewers which became progressively more pungent over the course of those days. Some residents even found gasoline coming out of their water pipes. City workers were dispatched to check the sewers and found dangerously high levels of gasoline fumes. However, the city mayor did not feel it was necessary to evacuate the city because he felt that there was no risk of an explosion.
Chronology of events
Before the explosions:
- April 19: Gante Street residents report a strong stench of gasoline and plumes of white smoke coming out from the sewers to the City of Guadalajara.
- April 21: Workers of the City Council and Protección Civil take two days to make revisions in Gante Street; they find strong levels of gasoline among other hydrocarbons, but announce it is not necessary to evacuate the area.
- April 22:
- 10:00: The manhole covers begin to bounce and columns of white smoke start coming out of them.
- 10:05: The first two explosions are recorded, the first in the corner of Calzada Independencia and Aldama Street, and the second at the intersection of Gante and 20 de noviembre.
- 10:06: The first call is received on the 060 Emergency Line and was forwarded to automatic voice messenger.
- 10:08: Third explosion – a route 333 bus, belonging to the Tuts Company is projected through the air on the corner of Gante and Nicolas Bravo.
- 10:12: The fourth explosion is registered in Gonzalez Gallo Ave.
- 10:15: Factory workers along Gonzalez Gallo Ave. are evacuated.
- 10:16: Rescue teams and volunteers arrive in areas affected by the explosions.
- 10:23: The fifth explosion occurs at the intersection of Gante and Calzada del Ejercito.
- 10:29: The Mexicaltzingo neighborhood is evacuated.
- 10:31: The sixth explosion is recorded in the intersection of 5 de febrero and Rio Bravo.
- 10:43: The seventh explosion occurs at the corner of Ghent Street and Silverio Garcia.
- 11:00: More rescue teams arrive in the affected areas.
- 11:02: The eighth explosion occurs at the intersection of Rio Nilo Ave. and the Rio Grande.
- 11:03: The neighborhoods of Atlas, Alamo Industrial, El Rosario, Quinta Velarde, Fraccionamiento Revolución and the center of the municipality of Tlaquepaque, are evacuated.
- 11:16: The last two explosions occur one at the intersection of Rio Alamos and Rio Pecos, and the other in González Gallo and Rio Suchiate
- After 12:00: The fear of further tragedies make people across the Guadalajara Metro Area uncover the manholes for any remaining gases to escape.
- 1:38: The residents of neighborhoods like Zona Industrial, 18 de marzo, Fresno, 8 de julio, Ferrocarril, La Nogalera, Morelos, Echeverria, Polanco, 5 de mayo, and Miravalle are told to be aware of any unusual events.
After the explosions:
- April 25: There is great panic among residents of the neighborhoods 5 de mayo, el Dean, Echeverría and Polanco; firefighters ask people to avoid lighting any flames, due to a strong smell of gas. It was later confirmed to be a leak in a Pemex pipe.
An investigation into the disaster found that there were two precipitating causes:
- New water pipes, made of zinc-coated iron, were built too close to an existing steel gasoline pipeline. The underground humidity caused these materials to create an electrolytic reaction, akin to that which occurs inside a zinc-carbon battery. As the reaction proceeded it eventually caused the steel gasoline pipe to corrode, creating a hole in the pipeline that permitted gasoline to leak into the ground and into the main sewer pipe.
- The sewer pipe had been recently rebuilt into a U-shape so that the city could expand their underground metro railway system. Usually sewers are built in a slope so that gravity helps move waste along. In order to get the U-shape to work, an inverted siphon was placed so that fluids could be pushed against gravity. The design was flawed, however. While liquids were successfully pumped through, gases were not, and gasoline fumes would build up.
In the aftermath, city officials and corporations pointed fingers at each other. Some people initially thought a cooking oil manufacturing company was leaking hexane, a flammable liquid similar to (and indeed a component of) gasoline, into the sewers, but this was later found to be erroneous. Numerous arrests were made in an attempt to indict those responsible for the blasts. Four Pemex officials were indicted and charged, on the basis of negligence. Ultimately, however, these people were cleared of all charges.
- http://www.drj.com/drworld/content/w2_028.htm James Dugal: “Guadalajara Gas Explosion Disaster” in Disaster Recovery Journal.
- http://tech.mit.edu/V112/N22/mexico.22w.html Peter Eisner: “Nine officials charged in sewer-line explosions case.” The Tech. April 28, 1992.
- http://www.semp.us/publications/biot_reader.php?BiotID=356 SEMP Biot #356 "The Guadalajara 1992 Sewer Gas Explosion Disaster" May 03, 2006.
- http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/cases/17-03.html Legal documents pertaining to this case
- http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,975488,00.html News on Pemex indictment