Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Family members of a victim cry when recognizing the body after an explosion in a pipeline belonging to Mexican oil company PEMEX on January 19, 2019 in Tlahuelilpan, Mexico.

Family members of a victim cry when recognizing the body after an explosion in a pipeline belonging to Mexican oil company PEMEX on January 19, 2019 in Tlahuelilpan, Mexico. In a statement, PEMEX announced that the explosion was caused by the illegal manipulation of the pipeline, as minutes before the accident videos were shot where people could be seen filling drums and car fuel tanks. (Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

At Least 66 Killed as Pipeline Explosion Rocks Central Mexico

Death toll from tragedy in state of Hidalgo may rise as scores were also wounded

Andrea Germanos

Local residents were advised to take precautions from a lingering toxic cloud on Saturday as authorities in the central Mexican state of Hildalgo said the death toll from a gasoline pipeline explosion had risen to 66.

The deadly fireball on Friday night in the town of Tlahuelilpan left another 76 wounded, seven of whom were less than 18 years old, said Gov. Omar Fayad.

The cause of the explosion, said state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), was a rupture caused by illegal tapping of the pipeline. Video posted to social media shows the moments when the explosion happened:

From the Associated Press:

On Saturday, several of the dead lay on their backs, their arms stretched out in agony. Some seemed to have covered their chests in a last attempt to protect themselves from the flames; another few black-charred corpses seemed to embrace each other in death.

"What happened here," said municipal health director Jorge Aguilar Lopez, "should serve as an example for the whole nation to unite behind the fight that the president is carrying out against this ill."

That "ill" is fuel theft, which newly-sworn in President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he is now even more determined to crack down on.  Yet, as Agence France-Presse reports, "the strategy to fight the problem led to severe gasoline and diesel shortages across much of the country, including Mexico City, forcing people to queue for hours—sometimes days—to fill up their vehicles."

Indeed, villagers from Tlahuelilpan had come to the scene of the leak ahead of the explosion to gather fuel. According to the New York Times, citing information from Mexico's defense secretary, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, there were as many as 800 villagers at the site of the rupture to gather fuel, who faced 25 troops attempting to stop them from taking the resource.

"A lot of people arrived with their jerry cans, because of the gasoline shortages we've had," said 55-year-old Martin Trejo, who was looking for his son, who had gone to collect the fuel.

The fire has now been extinguished, and forensic experts are working with the burned bodies as the fallout from what is said to be one of the nation's deadliest pipeline-related disasters continues to unfold.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Love Wins Again': Senate Passes Bill to Protect Same-Sex and Interracial Marriage

"While Congress has taken an important step," said the head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, "it is incumbent on all of us to continue to push for passage of the comprehensive Equality Act."

Jessica Corbett ·


Groups Blast Biden for 'Siding With Billionaires Over Rail Workers'

As criticism of the president's position mounts, some members of Congress are speaking out in support of including at least seven days of paid sick leave in any measure they pass.

Jessica Corbett ·


'A Very Good Day for Our Republic' as Key Jan. 6 Insurrectionist Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy

"Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible," said one former federal prosecutor after Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers militia, was found guilty.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Report Advises 'Urgent Action' to Combat Slavery in Clean Energy Supply Chains

"We need to see industry, government, the financial sector, and civil society working together to provide access to competitively costed, slavery-free renewable energy."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressives Mobilize in Georgia for Dec. 6 Senate Runoff

Advocacy groups backing Sen. Raphael Warnock call the Democrat a "reproductive rights champion" who is also "fighting to stop the climate crisis and create good jobs in the process."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo