At least one person was killed and over a dozen were injured when a pipeline of state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) exploded in the central Mexican state of Puebla after it was breached by suspected fuel thieves, authorities said on Sunday.
Around 1:34 a.m. local time in the San Pablo Xochimehuacan municipality, a gas leak was reported and around 2,000 people within 1 kilometer of the leak were evacuated, Puebla State Government officials said at a press conference Sunday. Search and rescue crews are working to find people who could be trapped under collapsed buildings.
The first of three explosions happened at 2:50 a.m. Puebla’s governor, Miguel Barbosa, said the blast was sparked by a gas leak caused by an illegal fuel tap. According to Reuters, Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador said the fire was under control.
Javier González of the government’s Petróleos Mexicanos company (Pemex) said the tap apparently was installed on a property where officials found a tanker truck and 25 gas cylinders, according to Spectrum News.
Officials said 1,400 soldiers, National Guard troops, police, firefighters, and rescue personnel were working in the area following the explosions.
Mexico has long been plagued by fuel thieves who tap into gas and gasoline ducts. An illegal tap of a gasoline line caused an explosion that killed at least 128 people in the town of Tlahuelilpan, north of Mexico City, in 2019. People had gathered in a field to fill containers with gasoline leaking from the line.