At least 70 people died as a result of a gasoline duct explosion in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo, on Friday, Jan, 18, Mexican government authorities said.

The explosion occurred late Friday night at a site where hundreds of people were trying to collect gasoline from a breach in the Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) pipe made by huachicoleros (gasoline pirates) in a duct leading from the Tuxpan-Tula refinery, 15 kilometers away.

According to Hidalgo Governor Omar Fayad Meneses, prior to the explosion, military forces had tried to block people from approaching the tap, but were severely outnumbered by the 600 to 800 people who swarmed the duct with gas cans and other containers in hand to collect the precious liquid.

The state of Hidalgo, just north of Mexico City, has been severely hit by the nationwide gasoline shortage crisis that began when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) initiated his ongoing fight against gasoline piracy, which he says cost the nation more than $60 billion last year alone.

The explosion occurred about 5 p.m. on Friday, and took more than four hours to extinguish.

The number of injured is about 70 and continues to climb.

In a press conference early Saturday, Jan. 19, President López Obrador expressed his condolences for the families of those loss and injured, but reiterated his government’s commitment to continue it battle against fuel theft.


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