Puebla, Mexico, Nov 1 (EFE).- Fourteen people remain hospitalized after three explosions rocked this central Mexican city as a result of an attempt to steal fuel from a pipeline, authorities said Monday.
One person was declared dead at the scene of the blasts, which took place before dawn Sunday at a pipeline operated by state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) in Puebla’s San Pablo Xochimehuacan district.
Of the 17 people admitted with injuries from the explosions, 14 remain hospitalized and eight of them are listed in serious condition, Puebla state Health Secretary Jose Antonio Martinez told a press conference, adding that five of the patients were intubated.
The blasts also left more than 50 nearby homes badly damaged. By the middle of the previous decade, tapping into pipelines to steal fuel for sale on the black market had become a lucrative racket in Mexico.
The “huachicoleros,” as the fuel thieves are known, were costing the Mexican economy around $5 billion a year before the crackdown launched by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador shortly after taking office in December 2018.
The practice of tapping into the pipelines is inherently dangerous and an explosion on the night of Jan. 18, 2019, hours after hundreds of residents of the town of Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo state, gathered near a pipeline to collect fuel after thieves had drilled a hole in the duct, left 137 people dead and dozens of others injured. EFE