Guadalajara Gas Explosion

The blast blew open the streets and carved an enormous 9 mile ditch down the middle of Avenida Gante measuring 80 feet wide and 25 feet deep.

Approximately 1,000 buildings were collapsed, destroyed or heavily damaged. Drs. James Dugal, and Gail Anderson, led their team of physicians, the American Medical Search and Rescue Team based in Atlanta, Georgia, to the explosion disaster site in Guadalajara, Mexico. The team was requested by the Jalisco Government and the University Autonomous of Guadalajara (UAG) Medical School to evaluate the search and rescue efforts, the medical needs of the trauma hospitals and consultation on “Crush Syndrome.” Initial reports by the Mexican Government and confirmed by team member Al Nixon of the Atlanta Red Cross said at least 2,000 people were injured, 200 people were killed and over 20,000 were left homeless. Damages of building were estimated to be at $300 million.

While stunned survivors wandered in search of lost relatives in the blast zone, government officials and industrialists Thursday traded charges of responsibility for the massive sewer-line explosions that killed at least 200 people and injured more than 1500.

"Please help us," begged Jose Guadalupe Arrellana, weeping as he tugged on the sleeve of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who walked through the crater-wracked ruins of the working-class Reforma district of this city in western Mexico.

"I'll do what I can," Salinas told Arrellana, whose repair shop was destroyed in the blast. At a news conference later, Salinas gave investigators 72 hours to find the cause of the blasts and pledged "to punish those found responsible."

The disastrous series of sewer gasoline explosions in Guadalajara on Wednesday, April 22, 1992, though not caused by a terrorist attack, demonstrate the potential impact of a well-planned and executed terrorist attack using a city’s sewer lines. The multiple blasts over a period of about four hours tore apart more than six miles of sewer lines and, in the worst-hit places, left heavily-trafficked streets in a pile of rubble sitting in 25-foot-deep sewer trenches. The explosions crushed to death 206 people; injured 1,460 people; damaged 1,148 buildings; and destroyed 350 businesses and 505 vehicles, according to one source (the numbers vary slightly from source to source). (5) In addition, the disaster left about 15,000 people homeless. (6) The political fallout rocked Mexico for years because local authorities knew of a gas leak problem for days but chose not to evacuate the population.