Hundreds evacuated from Mexican town after pipeline blast
01 September 2014
At least 500 industrial workers were evacuated following a gas pipeline explosion in San Miguel Xoxtla, a town in the central Mexican state of Puebla, on August 30. News agency EFE quoted emergency management officials as saying that no one was injured in the blast, which affected a pipeline belonging to state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
Flames rose 20 metres into the sky following the blast, setting alight nearby farmland and a tyre storage area. The blaze forced the closure of the Puebla-Mexico City highway for about two hours, officials said.
Army troops and police brought the fire under control and investigators are trying to determine what caused the explosion. Numerous Pemex pipelines are located in the San Miguel Xoxtla industrial zone and workers from nearby plants were evacuated.
Emergency management officials said Pemex was looking into the possibility of the blast having been caused by a clandestine tap, amongst other possible causes. Theft of fuel from Pemex pipelines, known in Mexico as “milking,” is common, with both individuals and gangs involved in the illegal activity.
A total of 2,523 fuel theft cases were registered in 2013, Pemex said.
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