Mexican authorities now put the number killed in Friday night's oil pipeline blast at 66, with dozens injured. It is believed the blast occurred after the line was ruptured by suspected oil thieves in the town of Tlahuelilpan, in Hidalgo state. Officials say dozens of people had been scrambling to fill up containers when fire broke out on Friday evening.
The death toll was provided by Hidalgo governor, Omar Fayad, who also told the media that 76 people were injured in the blast. A 12-year-old was among those wounded, he said, warning that the number of fatalities may still increase.
'I urge the entire population not to be complicit in fuel theft. Apart from being illegal, it puts your life and those of your families at risk,' Fayad wrote on Twitter earlier.
The pipeline had been spewing fuel for several hours near Pemex’s Tula refinery, and hundreds of people had reportedly gathered round with plastic containers and even vehicles to grab whatever fuel they could carry – rendering the eventual explosion that much more deadly. Videos posted on social media, apparently from the scene, show flames shooting dozens of meters upwards as people scurry around screaming.
Pemex, Mexico's state-owned petroleum company, said in a statement that the fire was caused by illegal tapping.Thousands of marines have been deployed to guard pipelines and transport has been shut down altogether in places.The policy has led to increased reliance on tanker deliveries and there have been widespread reports of fuel shortages and long lines at petrol stations across the country.