CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico—A fire at a natural gas pipeline distribution centre near Mexico’s border with the U.S. killed 26 maintenance workers and forced evacuations in nearby ranches and homes.
Executives from Petroleos Mexicanos, (Pemex) Mexico’s state-owned oil company, said there was a gas leak, followed by an explosion, but the precise cause had not been determined.
The company’s director-general, Juan Jose Suarez, said four of those killed were Pemex employees and the rest were employed by contractors. He told reporters in Reynosa that 46 other workers were injured, including two hospitalized in serious condition.
The highway that connects Reynosa to the industrial city of Monterrey was closed to traffic, authorities said.
Pipelines carrying gasoline and diesel in Mexico are frequently tapped by thieves looking to steal fuel.
Several oil spills and explosions have been blamed on illegal taps. But thieves seldom target gas pipelines.
In December 2010, authorities blamed oil thieves for an oil pipeline explosion in a central Mexico city near the capital that killed 28 people, including 13 children. The blast burned people and scorched homes, affecting 5,000 residents in an area six miles (10 kilometres) wide in San Martin Texmelucan.