A horrible nightmare has occured after a pipeline ruptured by suspected fuel thieves exploded in central Mexico as dozens of people tried to fill up containers.
Mexican television footage showed flames leaping into the night sky in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan, in Hidalgo state north of Mexico City, as people screamed and cried for help.
Hidalgo’s governor Omar Fayad told Mexican television that emergency services had registered the charred bodies of 21 people, and that at least 71 others had been injured. However, the blaze had yet to be extinguished, he said.
“There’s still a very hot area where we think the number of injured or dead we haven’t had access to could rise,” he said.
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.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has launched a major crackdown on rampant fuel theft, which the government said cost the country more than US$3 billion last year.
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