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Pipeline blast kills at least one in Mexico

21 August 2017

At least one person was killed and five others were injured on August 19 when an illegally tapped oil pipeline exploded in east Mexico's Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, officials said. The state Secretariat of Civil Protection said in a press release the blast happened as thieves were trying to steal fuel from the pipeline, which runs from the town of Minatitlan to the capital Mexico City.

Stock image
Stock image

Two women and three men were taken to the hospital with serious burns.

The blast sparked a fire and generated a thick plume of black smoke, and led Civil protection officials to evacuate residents of Zapoapan, where the incident occurred, as well as students at the nearby Technological University of Central Veracruz.

Pemex, the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, said it was finally able to bring the fire under control after company workers allowed the spilled fuel to burn off.

In May, four suspected fuel thieves were killed in an explosion and fire at Tierra Blanca in Veracruz and clashes between the military and suspected fuel thieves killed 10 people in the central state of Puebla.

Fuel theft is on the rise in Mexico, with Pemex estimating annual losses of more than a billion US dollars. In 2017, the company recorded over 3,400 tappings, a 57% increase compared to the same period last year.

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