A gasoline pipeline explosion in Tlahuelilpan, Mexico, has killed at least 66 people and left dozens injured.
Officials say people had been filling up containers from an illegal pipeline tap when fire broke out on Friday evening.
According to news reports, video footage showed dozens of people in an almost festive atmosphere gathered in a field where the pipeline had been breached by fuel thieves. Footage then showed flames shooting high into the air against a night sky and the pipeline ablaze. Screaming people ran from the explosion, some themselves burning and waving their arms.
Dozens of burned bodies lay in a charred field on Saturday where the blast occurred in what is one of the worst incidents to hit Mexico’s troubled oil infrastructure in years. Relatives of the deceased and onlookers gathered around the scene. Plastic jugs and jerry cans that the victims had carried to collect spilling fuel were scattered among the carnage.
The fire resulting from the explosion has been extinguished, Mexican Secretary of Public Security Alfonso Durazo said on Twitter, and rescue teams have begun to recover bodies.
A las 23:50 horas, el incendio ha sido sofocado. Se hacen en este momento los preparativos necesarios para el rescate de los cuerpos de quienes hayan fallecido por la explosión del ducto en la zona afectada. No podemos adelantar cifras hasta completar esta etapa.
— Alfonso Durazo (@AlfonsoDurazo) January 19, 2019
Gov. Omar Fayad said at least 76 people were injured. More than 85 other people were listed as missing.
The pipeline is owned by Mexican oil company PEMEX.
Some social media users responded to the explosion with anger, arguing the fuel thieves only had themselves to blame.
Rising international fuel prices have made the crime increasingly attractive.
The government is attempting to prevent fuel theft but some argue the strategy has led to fuel shortages.
The explosion occurred amid gas stations in several states and the country’s capital running dry for nearly two weeks.
Tlahuelilpan, about 62 miles north of Mexico City.
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