Thieves suspected as oil pipeline blast kills 22

| Dec. 19, 2010 |

At least 22 people were killed in Mexico in an oil pipeline explosion, thought to be caused by thieves attempting to tap off either gas or oil.

The explosion took place in San Martin Texmelucan, in the central state of Puebla. More than 80 homes have been damaged by fire in the local area with a further 32 people wounded, according to local officials.

State-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) runs the line. In a joint statement with the Interior Ministry, the company said that the situation was under control and that local residents have been evacuated while the area remains cordoned off.

The statement continues to claim that the blast occurred during an attempt to steal fuel, however, this is yet to be confirmed by investigators.

The practise is common in Mexico where thieves often tap remote pipelines and sometimes build their own which are able to siphon off millions of dollars worth of oil in a year.