The explosion on Friday night in the Tlahuelilpan in Hidalgo was caused by thieves who, for several hours in advance, drilled holes in the oil pipe, according to the oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), which owns the plant. This resulted in local residents flocking to refuel their buckets.
In addition to the 20 who have lost their lives, 60 others have suffered severe burns, according to a public official.
“Treating the injured is our top priority,” says Governor Omar Fayad of Hidalgo.
Oil theft costs Mexico $ 3 billion a year. Thieves drilled 12,581 illegal drain holes during the first ten months of last year. In December 2010, 28 people, including 13 children, lost their lives in an oil spill explosion. The authorities stated that the explosion was due to illegal drain holes.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced a major offensive against oil crime and has posted 3,200 Marines to guard oil pipelines and oil plants.
The new administration has also shut down the operation of oil pipelines to track illegal drain holes. At the same time, Mexico has tried to use tank vehicles to distribute oil, but such vehicles are too few in the country.