MEXICO CITY – The number of deaths in the explosion during the theft of gasoline from an fuel pipeline in Tlahuelilpan, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, increased late Saturday from 67 to 73 people after new bodies were found at the scene of the accident and some injured died in hospitals.
“On Saturday, Jan. 19 at 17:00 hours (2300 GMT), the count is now 73 people dead,” the governor of Hidalgo, Omar Fayad, said at a press conference held at the National Palace in Mexico City.
Accompanied by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the governor said that there are 74 injured, distributed to hospitals in Hidalgo, Mexico City, State of Mexico, Queretaro and Guanajuato.
Of those hospitalized, seven are under the age of 18, 30 are between 18 and 29, 36 are between 30 and 54; and one is 63.
“The main task is to stabilize these people in order to continue with the corresponding treatments,” said the state governor, who on Saturday visited several hospitals together with Lopez Obrador’s wife, Beatriz Gutierrez Mueller.
The governor announced that some of the injured will be transferred in the next few hours to a specialized burns medical center in the American city of Galveston, Texas.
Raul Arroyo, Hidalgo state prosecutor, said a team of 60 experts moved to the ground immediately after the explosion.
He said that at first six complete bodies and the remains of 57 other people who died with “severe burns” were found.
Of these 63 bodies, nine are identified and in other cases “contact with different families has been initiated.”
“The remaining 54 are not recognizable because of the condition in which they were found,” he said, so genetic tests will be conducted, which will take “considerable time,” Arroyo added.
The recently appointed new attorney general of Mexico, Alejandro Gertz, explained that the pipeline transported high octane gasoline, which is highly flammable, which facilitated the explosion, although the exact causes of the ignition are not yet known.
Gertz pointed out that so far there is no one arrested and that those hospitalized could face charges for theft of gasoline.
In his speech, the president of Mexico assured that the whole process will be transparent and reaffirmed his fight against fuel theft.