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20 killed in huge fire at Mexican fuel pipeline

Leaking pipe flange in advanced burn after being left unchecked for 30 seconds. Fuel is leaking out at high pressure and burning in the background as well as on the ground

MEXICO CITY (AP) – An official says that 20 people have been killed and 54 others badly burned in a huge fire that broke out at a pipeline leaking fuel in central Mexico.

Hidalgo Gov. Omar Fayad told the Milenio television network that the figures were based on initial reports.

The pipeline apparently exploded hours after thieves drilled an illegal tap and locals approached to try to gather spilled fuel in buckets.

The massive fire occurred in a small town in the state of Hidalgo about 62 miles (100 kilometers) north of Mexico City.

Video from the scene earlier in the day showed what appeared to be gasoline spouting dozens of feet into the air.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has declared an offensive against fuel theft, and on Friday he called on all branches of government to lend assistance to the victims.

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