Mexico Pemex blast: 27 die in oil pipeline explosion in Mexico
At least 27 people were killed and thousands of residents forced to flee a central Mexican city on Sunday after a predawn pipeline explosion that may have been caused by oil thieves.
At least 52 others were injured and more than 100 homes damaged in what witnesses described as a series of blasts at a pumping station in San Martin Texmelucan.
The explosion flooded a stream with black crude and sparked “rivers of fire” in the streets, said Valentin Meneses, government secretary of the central state of Puebla.
Although oil theft is common in Mexico, explosions are not.
Television images showed towering plumes of thick black smoke draping the town. Trees and dozens of cars were charred by flames erupting from the earth, sending smoke curling from manholes. A black sludge-like substance swirled in a stream.
People jumped into their cars and raced out of town. Civil protection officials urged residents to stay out of the 3-mile-wide disaster area.
“It was a catastrophe,” resident Carlos Hipolito told Milenio Television after fleeing with about 60 relatives. He described seeing gas tanks exploding and flying through the air.
Residents of San Martin Texmelucan, in the state of Puebla, flee after the blast at a Pemex crude pumping station. Officials suspect that oil thieves trying to tap into high-pressure pipes caused the explosion. (Ulises Ruíz Basurto, EPA / December 19, 2010)