Blast kills 7 at Grand Riviera Princess hotel in Playa del Carmen
An explosion at the Grand Riviera Princess hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, killed seven people Sunday morning. The explosion destroyed the hotel’s restaurant and left a huge crater. Mexican authorities said the probable cause of the Playa del Carmen explosion was a buildup of swamp gas under the building.
The Grand Riviera Princess explosion
The explosion at the Grand Riviera Princess hotel in Playa del Carmen claimed the lives of five Canadian tourists and two Mexican hotel employees. The blast injured 18 guests at the 676-room hotel on Mexico’s Caribbean coast about 50 miles south of Cancun. People were sitting down to breakfast when an explosion blew out the windows of the hotel restaurant and turned chunks of metal, glass and pavement into projectiles that hurtled 50 yards. Eight of the most seriously injured are Canadians. Two are in critical condition. Ten others, including two U.S. citizens, and eight Mexican employees suffered less serious injuries.
The scene at the hotel blast
The floor of the restaurant at the Grand Riviera Princess hotel was sent through the ceiling by the power of the blast, according to Francisco Alor, the attorney general of Mexico’s state of Quintana Roo, in an interview with CBC News. A hotel guest told CBC News that the explosion sucked the air out of the building, then forced it back in, blowing people off their feet and into walls. Flying glass caused serious injuries. Hotel guests used deck chairs for stretchers to carry out the victims.
Swamp gas suspected
An investigation the Grand Riviera Princess explosion suggests that natural gas had accumulated under the floor of the hotel lobby and been ignited. There are no gas lines in the area, but the hotel was built on a concrete slab over a swamp near the beach. Authorities believe decomposing plant matter underground produced the gas. A separate investigation has been launched to determine whether illegal shortcuts had been taken in the construction of the Playa del Carmen hotel.