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Mexico Pipeline Blast Death Toll Climbs to 66

Mexico Pipeline Blast Death Toll Climbs to 66

An explosion and fire killed at least 66 people who were collecting fuel gushing from a leaking pipeline in central Mexico, the Hidalgo state governor said on Saturday.

López Obrador rushed to the state of Hidalgo, where the explosion occurred, about 60 miles north of Mexico City.

Video footage showed residents scrambling to fill containers from the burst pipe and badly burned victims, raising questions about the management of an issue Lopez Obrador has made a top priority since taking office on December 1.

The ruptured pipeline was near the Tula refinery of state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), which has blamed the incident on an illegal tap.

Federal and state firefighters and ambulances run by state oil company Pemex rushed to help victims with burns and take the wounded to hospitals.

"I greatly lament the grave situation Tlahuelilpan is suffering because of the explosion of the duct", Lopez Obrador tweeted.

Mexico has suffered from widespread fuel theft for many years, which the government claims costs the country more than $3billion.

The government has shut off key pipelines until they can be fully secured and deployed the army to guard Pemex production facilities. His plan, which involves increasing surveillance along pipelines and more shipments via tanker trucks, led to gas shortages at filling stations across central Mexico.

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According to Public Security Minister Alfonso Durazo, the blaze was contained shortly before midnight.

Hidalgo state governor, Omar Fayad, has warned the number of casualties may rise as further searches are carried out.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News. Estrada said that he was looking for his 13-year-old son, Hugo Olvera Bautista, who was at the pipeline when it exploded. This, besides being unlawful, puts your life and that of the families at risk.

Mr Lopez Obrador expressed his concern on Twitter, and said he wanted "the entire government" to help people at the scene. "What happened today in Tlahuelilpan must never happen again".

"I urge the entire population not to be complicit in fuel theft", Mr Fayad posted (in Spanish).

In an interview with local media, he vowed to press on with his anti-theft policy until it was eradicated.

Fayad said that, two hours after the pipeline was punctured, "we were informed that there had been an explosion" and the flames "were consuming everything around". "Then, there will be complete support".