Horrifying fireball at ruptured Mexico oil pipeline kills 21

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A massive fireball that engulfed people scooping up spilling fuel from a pipeline ruptured by thieves in central Mexico killed 21 people and badly burned 71 others in what was a chronicle of a tragedy foretold.

It came just three weeks after new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched an offensive against fuel theft gangs that drilled dangerous, illegal taps into pipelines an astounding 12,581 times in the first 10 months of 2018, an average of about 42 per day.

With crowds of townspeople often involved, either aiding thieves or collecting spilled fuel in primitive containers, it was only a matter of time before a fire occurred.

In fact, they have occurred before, but seldom with the scale and horrifying death toll of Friday's fire in the state of Hidalgo.