Stockpile of stolen fuel in Mexico catches fire, 7 injured

A blaze near a pipeline owned by Mexican state oil company Pemex injured seven late Tuesday night, local emergency services said on Wednesday.

“Following the events … seven people were injured,” said Ivan Martinez, emergency services coordinator for the southern Mexican state of Tabasco, said via Twitter.

One unverified Twitter account that appeared to represent the state health ministry had earlier said as many as 30 people were injured. This tweet was reported widely by local media.

The fire was controlled without the pipeline being affected, Pemex said via its Twitter account late on Tuesday, adding that none of the injured people were Pemex employees.

The blaze apparently started in an area used to store stolen fuel, near the town of Huimanguillo in the southern state of Tabasco, Pemex said via its Twitter account late on Tuesday.

The oil company often has to deal with fires that start when its pipelines are tapped illegally. Pemex has admitted that workers, former employees, drug cartels and business people have been involved in stealing its fuel and it has taken some measures to cut down on the costly thefts.

Pemex in November said it reduced its annual accident rate last year by more than 33 percent. However, a Reuters investigation earlier this year found that Pemex was reducing its accident rate by including hours worked by office staff in its calculations.

Accidents have plagued Mexico’s state-controlled oil company for years. In 2013, at least 37 people were killed by a blast at Pemex’s Mexico City headquarters, and another 26 people died in a fire at a Pemex natural gas facility in northern Mexico in September 2012.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Tom Hogue and W Simon)

Related stories on oil pipeline thefts in Mexico:

Pemex invests in system to stop oil theft from pipelines

Mexico stops fuel delivery from pipelines because of theft

Gas shortages in Mexico due to theft


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