Oil blast causes in­ferno in Mex­i­can town, 28 dead

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

MEX­ICO CITY: Fuel thieves tam­per­ing with an oil pipe­line may have sparked a deadly ex­plo­sion that turned streets of a Mex­i­can town into an in­ferno that killed 28 peo­ple on Sun­day, of­fi­cials said.

Oil spilling from a breached pipe­line burst into a fire­ball that de­stroyed homes and cars be­fore dawn in San Martin Texmelu­can, a small com­mu­nity in the state of Pue­bla about 50 miles east of Mex­ico City.

"Sev­eral streets were flooded with fuel. With a spark, there was a river of fire," said Valentin Me­ne­ses, in­te­rior min­is­ter of the state of Pue­bla.

Pho­tos and video from the scene showed burned-out homes, charred ve­hi­cles and scorched ground. Pe­mex, the state oil mo­nop­oly that owns the pipe­line, said fuel thieves could have touched off the deadly blast that was quickly brought un­der con­trol by fire­fight­ers. "We are not dis­count­ing me­chan­i­cal prob­lems but, on the other hand, we have had prob­lems with il­le­gal taps this year in­clud­ing along that stretch" of pipe, said Pe­mex chief Juan Jose Suarez.

Fuel theft is ram­pant in the Pe­mex net­work and hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars worth of fuel have been stolen in re­cent years, the com­pany has said.

Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to de­ter­mine who was re­spon­si­ble, his of­fice said. Late Sun­day af­ter­noon, Calderon vis­ited the blast site, chat­ted with sur­vivors and promised fed­eral help for the town.

Pe­mex was alerted to trou­ble in the pipe­line when a pump­ing sta­tion re­ported a sud­den drop in pres­sure and halted the flow of oil, the com­pany said in a state­ment.

"Min­utes later, (we) de­tected a fire in two of those ducts," Pe­mex said. The ex­plo­sion and en­su­ing fire clouded the town in smoke as sol­diers ar­rived to help fire­fight­ers and res­cue teams. Among the dead there were 13 chil­dren, while 52 peo­ple were in­jured, of­fi­cials said. The ex­plo­sion de­stroyed 32 houses and dam­aged more than 80 more, of­fi­cials said. -Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.