Mexico Pipeline Explosion, 79 Die

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Mexico — Near Mexico City, a pipeline blast caused massive casualties.

Thieves punctured a hole in a pipeline near Mexico City, trying to steal fuel.

The puncture caused an explosion that killed 79 people (as of 1.24.19), and injured 81 people.

This incident highlights the growing fuel thievery in Mexico. According to the New York Times, fuel theft has cost the government billions of dollars. The Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is cracking down on this crime.

The government has been doing several things to reduce fuel theft including moving fuel from pipelines to trucks in heavily targeted areas and added security at Pemex installations and refineries. However, this has disrupted service and caused a fuel shortage.

The Mexico pipeline explosion was so deadly because citizens of the local, impoverished village were drawn to the pipeline hole with the promise of free fuel.

“If there hadn’t been such a bad shortage, this tragedy would not have happened and innocent people would not have died. People didn’t have a way to move around, get to their jobs, go anywhere,” said Raul Linares, a 30-year old farmer.

Mexico’s defense secretary said that 25 troops were sent to the scene of the pipeline hole (before the explosion). They tried to get the villagers (700-800 people) to leave, but they “turned aggressive.” Shortly after, there was an explosion.

In 2010, fuel thieves caused another pipeline explosion that killed 27 people.

In 2018, $3.14 billion in fuel was stolen and sold on the black market in Mexico. Only time will tell if the added security and transportation changes will affect the theft of fuel.

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