Charges laid in Mexico hotel explosion



The scene after the explosion at the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Prosecutors in Mexico have filed charges against five employees and contractors at a Caribbean coast hotel where a Nov. 14 explosion killed five Canadian tourists and two Mexicans.

The assistant attorney general of the state where the hotel is located said investigators found an unauthorized extension of a gas line under the hotel lounge where the blast occurred.

Rodolfo Garcia Pliego said the gas line at the 676-room Grand Riviera Princess resort in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun, was not reported to authorities, and not properly installed or maintained.

The charges against the five announced Monday range from homicide and causing injuries, to professional or technical misconduct, charges that presumably apply to the installers.
Protesters outside the Grand Riviera Princess resort in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun.Protesters outside the Grand Riviera Princess resort in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun. (Submitted by Carlos Underwood)

Officials had earlier blamed an accumulation of swamp or sewage gas, but later determined the line was the cause.

Garcia Pliego said Monday the charges were filed Friday and that prosecutors have requested arrest warrants for the suspects.
Protests at hotel

Family and friends of the two Mexican workers who were among those killed in the explosion protested Monday outside the hotel, holding signs warning that the hotel was a dangerous place.

"Your life is in danger, you can be the next," read one sign.

Some were demanding "fair compensation" for what they call the murder of 24-year-old Sergio Villegas, one of the two workers.

The compensation would be for his widow and two children, a six-month-old son and a four-year-old girl.

The protesters said they'll be at the hotel for three days and, if nothing happens, they will start a hunger strike. The protesters said the hotel paid for Villegas's basic funeral costs, but did not pass on to his family the salary he was owed at the time he died in the blast.