Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

Mexico Pipeline Blast Death Toll Climbs to More Than 70

Firefighters are working at extinguishing the fire at the scene of a massive blaze triggered by a leaky pipeline in Tlahuelilpan Hidalgo state Mexico on Jan. 19 2019. A leaking fuel pipeline triggered a massive blaze in central Mexico killing at least At Least 66 Killed as Pipeline Explosion Rocks Central Mexico
Pablo Mccormick | 21 January, 2019, 17:42

"Part of the blame goes to the people (at the ruptured pipeline) but the bigger blame lies with authorities who let them go there knowing it was unsafe", said Velasco, the farmer.

Late last month, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched a program to shut down an illegal fuel-distribution network that siphons off about US$3 billion ($4.19 billion) worth of fuel annually from state oil firm Pemex.

Alcocer said in an early Sunday news conference that some patients are in serious condition, with burns on more than 80 percent of their bodies and organs compromised following the accident.

"A lot of innocent people came here, perhaps their auto didn't have enough gasoline for tomorrow, and they said: 'I'm just going to go for a few liters, '" said farmer Isidoro Velasco, 51, who believed his nephew Mario Hidalgo was likely killed.

The search for remains ended late Saturday but families of the victims called for the search to continue and for forensic experts to return to the scene.

A huge fire exploded at a pipeline leaking fuel in central Mexico on Friday, as locals were collecting the spilling gasoline in buckets and garbage cans. "Within a week, fuel shortages led to shuttered stations and long lines around the country".

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Lopez Obrador said the disaster had hardened his resolve to fight fuel theft and the government was looking at ways to strengthen aging pipelines to make it harder to illegally suck fuel from them.

TLAHUELILPAN, MEXICO - JANUARY 19: (EDITORS NOTE: Image depicts graphic content) A forensic doctor works with burned bodies after an explosion in a pipeline belonging to Mexican oil company PEMEX on January 19, 2019 in Tlahuelilpan, Mexico.

Lopez Obrador has said his decision to close pipelines has greatly reduced fuel theft, but the death toll has raised questions about potentially unintended consequences.

Acting Attorney General Alejandro Gertz claimed the explosion was "intentional" because "someone caused that leak".

"I don't know what he was thinking going over there", he said.

Locals on Saturday expressed both sympathy and consternation for the president's war on fuel gangs.

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In recent years, fuel theft has grown from a common, but de-centralized problem to a massive operation, organized in part by Mexican cartels. "I would always see him buying his gas (at stations)".

About 15 oil pipeline explosions and fires causing more than 50 fatalities each have occurred around the world since 1993.

The armed soldiers had been moved away from the pipeline to avoid any risk of confrontation with the crowd when the blast occurred, about two hours after the pipeline was first breached, Sandoval said. His administration also shut down pipelines to detect and deter illegal taps, relying more on delivering fuel by tanker truck.

The area was cordoned off after the explosion, with soldiers and military personnel guarding it.

That blast burned people and scorched homes, affecting 5,000 residents in an area 10 kilometres (six miles) wide in San Martin Texmelucan.

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