The Mexican government said that gasoline shortages in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo State, may have led residents to illegally tap the pipeline. Video reported to have been recorded by the Mexican army shows streams of people siphoning gas from the tapped line before the explosion.
CNBC reported that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was sworn into office in December of 2018, recently “launched an offensive against fuel theft gangs that drilled dangerous, illegal taps into pipelines an astounding 12,581 times in the first 10 months of 2018, an average of about 42 per day.”
As can be seen in video, residents arrive and appropriate fuel using containers from milk jugs to as was reported, even a small boat.
It’s reported that gas theft occurs with such regularity that “it was only a matter of time before a fire occurred,” albeit of this magnitude likely not expected.
It’s now reported that at least 66 people are dead and as many as 100 or more suffering from serious burns.
Pipeline owner Petróleos Mexicanos (Mexican Petroleum) known as Pemex, says “The explosion in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo was derived from the manipulation of a clandestine takeover for fuel theft in the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline. This accident does not affect the supply of gasoline in Mexico City.”
The Mexican government held a press conference early Saturday morning at the National Palace “to inform the relatives of the victims, the people and the media, details related to the tragedy in Tlahuelilpan.”
Hidalgo state governor Omar Fayed tweeted that unless illegal tapping of fuel pipelines stops, explosions and tragedies like occurred at Tlahuelilpan will continue.
“I call on the entire population not to be accomplices in the theft of fuel. This, besides being unlawful, puts your life and that of the families at risk. What happened today in Tlahuelilpan should not be repeated.”
The images that follow may be disturbing for many and depict forensic recovery efforts after the explosion.