On Friday, hundreds of people had gathered in an almost festive atmosphere in a field where a pipeline had been perforated by fuel thieves and gasoline spewed 20 feet into the air. State oil company Petroleos Mexicanos said the pipeline, which supplies much of central Mexico with fuel, had just reopened after being shut since Dec. 23 and that it had been breached 10 times over three months. As they neared the spurting fuel, Gerardo Perez was overcome with foreboding. Perez recalls telling his son: "Let's go ... this thing is going to explode." And it did, with a fireball that engulfed locals scooping up the spilling gasoline and underscored the dangers of an epidemic of fuel theft from pipelines that Mexico's new president has vowed to fight, reports the AP. By Saturday evening the death toll from Friday's blaze had risen to 73, with another 74 people injured and dozens more missing. Stories of the grisly aftermath and some of the lost:
- Journalist Veronica Jimenez tells Reuters she got there prior to the blast and saw a scene "like a party." Then, horror. "Some people’s skin came off ... it was very ugly, horrible, people screamed and cried. They shouted the names of their husbands, brothers, their family members."