Hidalgo’s governor Omar Fayad told Mexican television that emergency services had registered the charred bodies of 66 people and that at least 71 others had been injured.
ONE OF THE WORST EXPLOSIONS
Fayad said the number of victims could still rise depending on what emergency services discovered where the blaze had been hottest, which had been difficult to access. Shortly before midnight, Public Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said the fire had been put out, and that the government would need time to establish the final death toll.
Images published on broadcaster Televisa showed people with severe burns from the blast as the government sent in ambulances and doctors to treat the victims.
The explosion was one of the worst in recent history in a country that has suffered hundreds of illegal ruptures to its network of oil and gas pipelines. “I urge the entire population not to be complicit in fuel theft,” Fayad said on Twitter. “Apart from being illegal, it puts your life and those of your families at risk.”
The ruptured pipeline was near the Tula refinery of state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), which in a statement blamed the incident on an illegal tap.
Separate television footage showed the pipeline gushing a fountain of fuel earlier in the day and dozens of people at the site trying to fill buckets and plastic containers.