An explosion of a ruptured gasoline pipeline in central Mexico has reportedly killed nearly 85 people and left several others injured.
The blast occurred on 18 January after the pipeline was ruptured by suspected fuel thieves in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo.
People who gathered at the ruptured spot to collect fuel were injured by the explosion, according to media reports.
A Reuters report quoted Mexico’s health minister Jorge Alcocer as saying that the gasoline pipeline explosion has led to the death of 85 people, while another 58 people were hospitalized.
The explosion happens at the time when gas stations in several states in the country “have been running dry for nearly two weeks.”
The country’s administration has closed major pipelines in order to check fuel theft.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that monitoring of the pipelines will be carried out to avert fuel theft.
López Obrador was quoted by CNN as saying: “To guarantee that there are no fuel shortages, it has been fundamental the participation of the armed forces, the military, marines and federal police.
“If necessary, we will re-enforce the surveillance strategy. Another method will be the increase of fuel transportation capacity.”
State oil company Pemex initially had said that illegal taps in the pipeline were the cause for the explosion.
Earlier this month, the company said: “Petróleos Mexicanos continues to make progress in its efforts to normalize fuel supply.
“The new strategy set in motion by the Mexican Government to end “huachicoleo” (the illegal trade in stolen fuel) is effective, and we will not back down from our fight against fuel theft, a crime that damages the national economy and affects every Mexican directly in their finances.
“We will continue implementing all necessary measures to end this crime, reinforcing surveillance and guarding our facilities and the six main pipelines of the country, which span 1,600 kilometers. We will also continue to use the alternative supply system using tanker trucks until supply is restored.”