Explosion Kills 20 in Mexico at Illegal Tap on Pemex Pipeline

Explosion Kills 20 in Mexico at Illegal Tap on Pemex Pipeline

Explosion Kills 20 in Mexico at Illegal Tap on Pemex Pipeline

At least 66 people were killed after a pipeline ruptured by suspected fuel thieves exploded in Mexico, authorities said on Saturday, as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador defended the army despite its failure to clear the site before the blast.

The crackdown involved state oil firm Pemex changing its distribution mechanism, triggering fuel shortages, empty petrol stations and long lines of angry motorists. Dozens of people were scrambling to fill containers with the leaking oil when they were engulfed by a massive fireball.

"Some people came out burning and screaming", he added.

Most of the injured are in serious condition, Alcocer said. The effort to tap the fuel lines comes as the people experienced a series of gas shortages due to the country's effort to crack down on the widespread theft of fuel and oil products at the hands of drug cartels and organized crime groups. Wrapped in a blanket outside a clinic, the man had already gone to six local hospitals looking for his child.

Lopez Obrador launched the offensive against illegal taps soon after taking office December 1, deploying 3,200 marines to guard pipelines and refineries. Thieves drilled about 12,581 illegal taps in the first 10 months of 2018 and the country has deployed 3,200 marines to guard pipelines and refineries.

The tragedy came just three weeks after new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched an offensive against fuel theft gangs drilling risky, illegal taps into pipelines an astounding 12,581 times in the first 10 months of 2018, an average of about 42 per day.

The roots of the fuel theft problem run deep in Mexico, where the practice known locally as "huachicoleo", or moonshining is big business for some communities.

Fuel traffickers had punctured the pipeline, leading hundreds of people including families to swarm the area, collecting the gasoline in jerrycans and buckets when the blast occurred Friday afternoon, witnesses said.

"What happened today in Tlahuelilpan should not be repeated".

"I urge the entire population not to be complicit in fuel theft", Fayad said on Twitter Friday.

Aerial view of the scene where a massive blaze trigerred by a leaky pipeline took place.

"We're not going to fight fire with fire", the veteran leftist said.

"The most important thing now is to look after the injured, to save lives, that is the most important thing".

Pemex has suffered a number of other deadly accidents in the past.

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