PLAYA DE CARMEN, Mexico – Seven people, including five Canadian tourists, died in a powerful explosion on Sunday, at a large resort hotel in Mexico, authorities said.
Two Mexican employees of the sprawling Grand Riviera Princess hotel in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun, were killed in the blast, said Francisco Alor, attorney general of Quintana Roo, where the resort is located.
The Associated press reports that two other Canadians suffered severe injuries and were listed in critical condition. Ten others, including two U.S. citizens and eight Mexican employees of the hotel, suffered less serious wounds and were listed as stable.
Alor described a horrific scene in which the floor of the building was basically hurled through the ceiling by the force of the explosion, blowing out windows and sending fragments of aluminum window and ceiling panels frame over a wide area.
“Everyone said their hotel room shook. The glass at neighboring restaurants all cracked and blew out. The tiki hut that was in the area, that was on fire,” said James Gaade of St. Catharines, Ontario, who was walking on the beach when he heard a loud explosion and saw smoke coming from the resort’s premium platinum lounge. “There was a large crater in the area, debris.”
According to AP, Alor said the dead include four men and a woman, but offered no further information on the victims. Playa del Carmen Civil Defense director Jesus Puc said the Canadian fatalities included a nine-year-old boy.
A statement from Canada’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade department said that one Canadian was confirmed killed, adding “we have received unconfirmed reports that three Canadian citizens are missing and seven are injured. No further information is available at this time.”
“On behalf of all Canadians, the Government of Canada extends its sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.”
The resort was hosting a large number of Canadians, including at least one wedding and a company vacation. Gaade estimated that 50 to 70 percent of the guests at the resort were Canadians.
The blast occurred on the ground floor of one of a dozen or so buildings that make up the sprawling hotel, and left a crater a yard (meter) deep.
It also blew out windows and hurled pieces of paving, glass and aluminum about 50 yards (meters) onto the palm-fringed lawn of the compound.
The area, next to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, was cordoned off and about 30 Mexican army soldiers stood guard around the hotel.
Officials said no gas lines were located in the area where the blast occurred.