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Mexican city devastated by pipeline blast; 28 die

Dec 19, 2010 11:01:00 PM - thestate.com
A massive oil pipeline explosion lay waste to parts of a central Mexican city Sunday, incinerating people, cars, houses and trees as gushing crude turned streets into flaming rivers. At least 28 people were killed, 13 of them children, in a disaster authorities blamed on oil thieves.

The blast in San Martin Texmelucan, initally estimated to have affected 5,000 residents in a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius, scorched homes and cars and left metal and pavement twisted and in some cases burned to ash in the intense heat.

Relatives sobbed as firefighters pulled charred bodies from the incinerated homes, some of the remains barely more than piles of ashes and bones.

Officials identified all but four of the dead by Sunday night. Although they released some names, they didn't say if they were all residents of the area or possible suspects.

Housewife Zoyla Perez Cortes, 27, said she awoke about 5:30 a.m. to a strange, overpowering smell, like gasoline. Minutes later, her street looked like it was flowing in tar and then erupted in flames. Her husband knocked down a wall allowing them to escape out the back of their two-story, cement-brick home with their three children.