Illegal Fuel Pipeline Tap Kills 91 in Mexico

Monday, January 21, 2019 @ 01:01 PM gHale

Firefighters work to put out a massive blaze triggered by a leaking gasoline pipeline in Tlahuelilpan, Mexico.
AFP/Getty Images

A Pemex gasoline pipeline explosion in central Mexico Friday night killed at least 91 people, the country’s health minister said Monday.

In addition to those killed in the blast, there were also 51 people injured, Health Minister Jorge Alcocer said.

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Friday’s pipeline blast happened after hundreds of people has rushed to collect fuel from the pipe when a pipeline in the state of Hidalgo burst open, sending a spray of fuel into the air, area residents rushed to collect it in buckets and barrels.

Over the weekend facts appeared that showed a possible series of missteps by the current government became clear, from the delay in shutting off the pipeline, to relatives saying fuel shortages caused by the government’s anti-theft policy attracted people to the leak.

A Pemex engineer told a news conference on Monday that at first the leak was just a “small puddle” but later grew into a “fountain.” Within 20 minutes of that assessment, the engineer said, the company was able to “take actions.”

It was not clear if those actions included shutting off the flow of fuel in the pipeline.

Pemex Chief Executive Octavio Romero said his team had followed protocol.

“Everything will be looked at,” he said.

The leak was reportedly caused by an illicit pipeline tap. Last year, pipelines were illegally cracked into about 42 times a day in Mexico, according to The Associated Press. Those taps, along with theft by corrupt officials, accounted for more than $3 billion of fuel stolen from the state-run oil giant Pemex in 2018, according to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.



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