21 killed in Mexico pipeline explosion

Mexico City: At least 21 people have been killed and 71 others injured in an oil pipeline explosion in central Mexico, authorities said.

It is believed the blast occurred after the pipeline was ruptured by suspected oil thieves in the town of Tlahuelilpan, in Hidalgo state, on Friday night, the BBC reported.

According to officials, dozens of people were scrambling around the ruptured pipeline to fill up containers when fire broke out. TV footage showed large flames and people at the scene with severe burns.

Hidalgo Governor Omar Fayad told the media that the explosion was followed by the fire.

Residents in the immediate vicinity of the pipeline, which runs from the cities of Tuxpan to Tula in the state of Veracruz, had been evacuated, state oil company Pemex said in the statement.

“I’m very sorry for the serious situation in Tlahuelilpan due to a pipeline explosion. I’m in Aguascalientes and since the Director of Pemex and the Defence Secretary briefed me, I gave instructions to contain the fire and treat the victims,” tweeted Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Authorities have blamed fuel theft for previous explosions in Mexico. In 2010, a pipeline blew up in the state of Puebla, leaving 28 people dead and scores wounded.