[WATCH] Pipeline explosion in Mexico kills 21

The pipeline had been gushing fuel earlier in the day after it was possibly ruptured by thieves in central Mexico killed 21 and badly burned 71

The pipeline in Tlahuelipan, Hidalgo state exploded on early Saturday morning
The pipeline in Tlahuelipan, Hidalgo state exploded on early Saturday morning

A pipeline explosion in Central Mexico left 21 dead and 71 badly burned. The pipeline had been leaking fuel earlier, possibly ruptured by thieves.

Video footage showed people getting covered in petrol as they tried to fill their containers on Friday in the town of Tlahuelipan, Hidalgo state, to the north of Mexico City. Screams could be heard later as a fireball shot to the sky.

The origins of the explosion remain uncertain but it brought home the horrors of huachicol – stolen fuel, often siphoned from pipes belonging to the state-run oil company Pemex.

Hidalgo state governor Omar Fayad appealed to people via Twitter to avoid taking fuel, saying they were putting their lives and those of their families at risk. “What happened today in Tlahuelilpan should not be repeated,” he said.

A poll in the Reforma newspaper showed 73% of respondents saying they were willing to endure fuel shortages to combat the illegal practice of siphoning fuel.

In December 2010, authorities blamed oil thieves for a pipeline explosion in a central Mexico near the capital that killed 28 people, including 13 children. That blast scorched homes, affecting 5,000 residents in an area six miles (10km) wide in San Martin Texmelucan.

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