Mexico pipeline explosion: 73 killed and 74 hurt after fuel theft

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At least 73 people have died and 74 others injured after a pipeline breached by fuel thieves exploded triggering a massive fire in central Mexico.

Hundreds of people had been trying to fill up containers at the time of the blast in Hidalgo state, 60 miles north of Mexico City.

Footage from the scene showed flames and smoke soaring into the night sky as people screamed for help.

Hidalgo’s governor Omar Fayad told Mexican television that the number of victims could still rise, depending on what the emergency services found in the aftermath of the blaze.

The pipeline, in the town of Tlahuelilpan, blew up after thieves drilled an illegal tap, according to state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

The explosion was one of the worst in recent history in a country that has suffered hundreds of illegal breaches of its network of oil and gas pipelines.

Mr Fayad wrote on Twitter: “I urge the entire population not to be complicit in fuel theft.

“Apart from being illegal, it puts your life and those of your families at risk.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has launched a major crackdown on fuel theft, which the government said cost the country more than £2bn last year.

Expressing his concern on Twitter, Mr Obrador said he wanted “the entire government” to help people at the scene.

Images taken earlier in the day showed the pipeline gushing a fountain of fuel as a crowd gathered to try and collect it.

The president’s crackdown on fuel theft has public support, although his decision to turn off pipelines in a bid to tackle the problem disrupted the supply in central Mexico and raised concern that shortages could damage the economy.

Some social media users responded to the latest explosion with anger, arguing the fuel thieves only had themselves to blame.

(c) Sky News 2019: Mexico pipeline explosion: 73 killed and 74 hurt after fuel theft

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