Mexico's bishops pray for the scores killed by pipeline blast

Credit: Tinny Photo/Shutterstock.
Credit: Tinny Photo/Shutterstock.

.- The bishops of Mexico have offered prayers and condolences following Friday's explosion of a fuel pipeline which killed at least 79 people in Hidalgo state.

The Jan. 18 blast occurred after a pipeline in Tlahuelilpan municipality, about 10 miles northeast of Tula, was punctured by suspected fuel thieves. As many as 800 people were converged around the gushing gasoline to fill containers when the blaze took place.

“We are offering all our prayers and Masses, as well as our solidarity with the families of the victims, the injured and those missing,” the president and secretary general of the Mexican bishops' conference said in a Jan. 19 statement.

“We appreciate and encourage the the company and consolation” offered by Bishop Juan Pedro Juárez Meléndez of Tula and his priests, “in hospitals and funeral chapels, to the relatives of all those affected by this accident.”

The bishops prayed for the eternal rest of the deceased and the health of those injured or missing.

The scramble to collect the gasoline came amid a shortage at the pumps produced by the government's fight against the theft and adulteration of fuel, which costs the country around $3 billion a year.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has charged that fuel theft has occurred with complicity within the government and Pemex, the state-owned oil company.

He recently began shutting down pipelines, using trucks and trains to transport fuel instead.

The Tula-Tuxpan pipeline which exploded in Tlahuelilpan had been closed since late December, and was reopened Jan. 16.

Both  López Obrador and the governor of Hidalgo have urged citizens not to engage in fuel theft.

"Besides being illegal, it puts at risk your life and those of your families. What happened today in Tlahuelilpan should not be repeated," governor Omar Fayad said on Twitter.