Thieves cause oil pipeline explosion killing at least 22
A pipeline exploded in central Mexico early yesterday as thieves were trying to steal oil, killing at least 22 people and sending rivers of flaming crude through city streets.
Authorities said that the explosion and resulting spill devastated a three-mile radius.
The main explosion, followed by four additional minor blasts, injured at least 32 people and forced hundreds to flee the city of San Martin Texmelucan, 55 miles east of Mexico City. It also destroyed 32 houses and damaged 83.
"We saw rivers of fire in the streets," said Valentin Meneses, interior secretary for the state of Puebla.
Mr Meneses said the explosion was apparently caused by thieves trying to steal crude oil.
"They lost control because of the high pressure with which the fuel exits the pipeline," he said, adding that the oil began to flow down the city's streets and into a nearby river.
The state-owned oil company Pemex said in a statement that it had shut down the pipeline.
Civil protection authorities, firefighters and military officers were investigating and trying to ensure there are no more explosions. No one has been detained.