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Death toll climbs to 89 in Mexico pipeline blast

The death toll from a perforated gasoline pipeline that exploded in the central Mexican town of Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo has climbed to 89, a senior official said on Monday.

The number of fatal victims from Friday night's blast has steadily grown as those who were severely injured in the explosion and fire succumbed to their injuries.

"Unfortunately, four more people have died, adding to the 85 (previously) announced. Today the number of dead is 89," Health Minister Jorge Alcocer told reporters at the government's daily press conference.

Another 65 people are still missing and 51 are hospitalized at different hospitals in central Mexico. Two young people who were among the injured have been taken to the U.S. city of Galveston, Texas, to receive specialized treatment for burns.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador underscored the fact that the tragedy was the outcome of fuel theft, a common crime that his government is trying to abolish.

"Of course, this tragedy could have been avoided if there were no corruption in Mexico, if there was no fuel theft," he said.

The government will step up surveillance along the network of pipelines owned and operated by state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) to prevent the illegal tapping of fuel, he said.

Hundreds of townspeople had gotten close to the leak, most carrying buckets and canisters to fill up amid a fuel shortage caused by the government crackdown on fuel theft.

Social networks have shown video footage of military personnel warning locals to stay away from the high-pressure leak, which spewed gasoline like a geyser for at least two hours before igniting.

However, their warnings were ignored and the military apparently took no further steps.

Mexico's national human rights commission (CNDH) is looking into a complaint brought against the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) "for failing to take action in Hidalgo," the president said.

Fuel theft is estimated to lead to losses of 60 billion pesos (about 3 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018.

Source:Xinhua  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:Death toll climbs to 89 in Mexico pipeline blast)