Modelo Brewery Accident Probed After Seven Workers Die

Grupo Modelo SAB, Mexico’s largest brewer, said the government is investigating the cause of an accident at its Mexico City plant that killed seven workers.

The deaths occurred yesterday in “a confined area of a tank in which cleaning and maintenance work was being done,” Jennifer Shelley, a Modelo spokeswoman, said in a statement. In a telephone interview today, she declined to elaborate, saying Mexican authorities were leading the inquiry.

Officials from the Labor Ministry, federal district attorney’s office and the federal civil protection agency are investigating the accident along with representatives from Mexico City, Shelley said. The city’s attorney general’s office is part of the probe, according to the agency’s press office.

Four of the dead were maintenance contractors and the other three were Modelo employees who probably went into the tank in a rescue attempt, the Mexican newspaper Universal reported today. The newspaper Milenio reported that the deaths were due to unspecified toxins.

The Modelo brewery, its employees and the surrounding neighborhood weren’t at any risk, and production isn’t expected to be affected, Shelley said.

Modelo is the maker of brands including Corona beer and has agreed to be acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. The shares fell 0.1 percent to 110.67 pesos at the close in Mexico City. The stock has declined 4.6 percent this year.

There were 7.8 deaths per 100,000 workers in Mexico in 2010, according to a report on the Labor Ministry’s website, down from 8 in 2009 and 7.9 in 2008.

Armando Segura, a spokesman for the ministry, said he had no immediate details on more recent statistics on workplace deaths.