At least 70 killed and over 85 still missing in Mexico after pipeline blast

At least 70 are dead from a fuel pipeline explosion in Mexico with dozens more injured. Authorities said the tragedy is directly linked to the country’s illicit gas trade and it comes as Mexico’s new president cracks down on the practice.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports.

Grisly scenes in an agricultural region north of Mexico City Saturday morning, as forensic investigators attempt to identify victims among heaps of charred remains.

This after tragedy the night before–the explosion of a ruptured state oil company gas pipeline illegally tapped by thieves. Scores of locals, many who had tried to collect the spewing gasoline, instantly incinerated.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was quick to respond.

“Now the most important thing is to take care of the injured, to save lives. That is the most important thing. And of course, full support to the families of the victims,” Lopez Obrador said. “Unfortunately it shows that we have to end this practice that led to the tragedy.”

While many in the local community have been evacuated, unidentified victims’ families are searching local hospitals, hoping to find their relatives alive.

Maria Sanchez was one of the lucky ones.

“I was in my house and I started watching the news and went up to my roof and it just exploded, I saw it,” Sanchez said. “Then I got worried and I called my father… I started watching the news and I also saw that there were a lot of people around and I was shocked.”

President Lopez Obrador says fuel pipeline theft costs Mexico some three billion dollars a year, and made his crackdown on fuel theft a priority after taking office last month. While his strategy has caused shortages across the country, polls show the majority of Mexicans support the measure.

“It’s good that the government is doing something about the fuel theft. They’ve got to find a way to stop it and everyone has to pitch in,” said Angel Francisco Perez, a resident in Mexico City.