Death toll in Mexico gasoline pipeline blast climbs to 96

Residents look at pictures of people missing after an explosion of a fuel pipeline ruptured by oil thieves, in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan, state of Hidalgo, Mexico January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The number of people who died in a gasoline pipeline explosion in central Mexico late last week has risen to 96, government officials said on Tuesday, from 91 reported a day earlier.

The explosion last Friday occurred after hundreds of people crowded in to collect gasoline gushing from a pipeline that had been ruptured by suspected fuel thieves near to the town of Tlahuelilpan in the state of Hidalgo.

Hidalgo’s government said in a statement that 96 people had been confirmed dead from the explosion, the worst to affect Mexico’s troubled oil infrastructure in several years. Another 48 people were receiving treatment for their injuries, it added.

Central Mexico had been hard-hit by gasoline shortages since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched a crackdown on fuel theft nearly a month ago, ordering pipelines closed in an effort to stamp out criminal activity.

Reporting by Dave Graham and Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Sandra Maler