A pipeline operated by Mexico’s state-owned oil company exploded in the central state of Puebla early Sunday as thieves were trying to steal oil, killing 27 people, authorities said.
Torres said the initial explosion in the town of San Martin Texmelucan was followed by four smaller blasts, and the resulting spill had a five-kilometre radius. No one has been arrested.
Civil protection authorities said the explosions and fire injured at least 52 people and damaged more than 115 homes.
Hundreds of people fled the town, 75 kilometres east of Mexico City, to escape the flaming fuel.
"We saw rivers of fire in the streets," Valentin Meneses, interior secretary for the state of Puebla, where San Martin is Texmelucan located, told Milenio Television.
The alleged thieves “lost control because of the high pressure with which the fuel exits the pipeline,” he said, adding that oil began to flow down the city’s streets and into a nearby river.
Criminals tap remote pipelines, sometimes building pipelines of their own, to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil each year, Pemex has said