MEXICO CITY – The death toll from last Friday’s pipeline explosion, which came as a result of fuel escaping from an illegal tap, has risen to 109, while the number of injured remains at 40, the Mexican government said this Friday.
Two more people passed away last night to increase the number of fatalities from the explosion that occurred a week ago, when hundreds of people were collecting fuel in oil drums and other containers from a hole that thieves had drilled in the duct in Tlahuelilpan municipality, Mexican Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer announced.
“We have had 109 fatalities up to now,” the doctor said during the morning press conference of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Of the 109 deaths, 98 occurred in hospitals where the injured were taken after the explosion.
At present, 40 people injured in the blast are being treated in hospitals in Hidalgo state, Mexico state, the Mexican capital and at a clinic in Galveston, Texas.
Last Jan. 18, a group of thieves from the small town of Tlahuelilpan in the central state of Hidalgo tapped a pipeline and started collecting the gasoline in a very rustic way.
Two hours later, the Mexican army troops who were standing by could do little to control the crowds of people who came to get their share of the gasoline. Then suddenly the pipeline blew up.
The blast occurred at a time when the new Mexican government had launched a plan to deal with the widespread theft of fuel that for years has cost the country vast economic losses.
According to official sources, the losses reached a value of 65 billion pesos (some $3.4 billion) in 2018 alone.
After taking power last Dec. 1, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched a head-on campaign against fuel robbery.
In this fight, the government has sent thousands of agents to guard the pipelines owned by state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), and at the same time is having more gasoline shipped in tanker trucks, a move that during the first days of January caused fuel shortages in 10 states around the country.