A large explosion in Mexico has left at least one dead and 15 people injured as well as widespread damage to dozens of buildings.
A gas leak reported at 1:34 a.m. local time in the city of Puebla prompted the evacuation of around 2,000 people within half a mile. The first explosion occurred at 2:50 p.m., with two further explosions shortly after.
“It is regrettable that one person has lost his/her life so far, and fifteen more are injured, due to the explosion of a Pemex pipeline in Puebla,” Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a statement Sunday. “Pemex has the fire under control and will ensure that families evicted from their homes remain safe.”
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Search and rescue crews worked throughout Sunday to find people who might be trapped under collapsed buildings, ABC News reported. Around 1,400 soldiers, National Guard troops, police, firefighters and rescue personnel were on the scene since the initial explosion occurred.
Officials briefly evacuated 37 patients from a nearby hospital, but it was back in service hours later as the building suffered only minor damage, such as broken windows.
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Officials believe the initial explosion occurred due to an illegal tap on a gas line. The government’s Petróleos Mexicanos company found the tap installed on a property where officials found a tanker truck and 25 gas cylinders across the street from a gas distribution
At least 54 homes were destroyed or damaged in the area, the Australia Broadcasting Company reported.
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Over a dozen people went to the hospital with injuries, five of which were listed in serious condition. Four of those people were minors.
“If there had not been an evacuation and there had not been coordination, there would have been a tragedy of great proportions,” said Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa.
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The governor vowed to “get to the bottom” of who was responsible for the explosion.
An illegal tap of a gasoline line caused an explosion that killed at least 134 people in the town of Tlahuelilpan, north of Mexico City, in 2019. Townspeople had gathered in a field to fill containers with gasoline leaking from the line.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.