Photo: Fire at Mexico pipeline, Tepeji del Rio
More than 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes as a precaution after would-be thieves ruptured a pipeline in the central Mexican town of Tepeji del Rio, authorities said Monday.
The leak also forced the closure of a 30-kilometer (19-mile) stretch of the Mexico City-Queretero highway, the deputy emergency services chief in Hidalgo state, Miguel Garcia-Conde Alvarez, told Efe.
The liquefied petroleum gas pipeline belongs to Petroleos Mexicanos, the state oil monopoly.
“We have around 1,100 people preventatively evacuated,” Garcia-Conde said, adding that it will be up to Pemex to decide when residents can return to their homes.
The Pemex and government technicians dealing with the problem are equipped with explosimeters to gauge the risk of a blast and have tried using water to dissipate the cloud of gas, the official said, pointing out that LP gas is “heavier than air.”
The leak was caused by thieves who tried to siphon fuel from the pipeline, Pemex said in a short statement.
Pemex estimates annual losses from fuel theft at around $500 million.
The federal highway administration said it hoped to reopen the heavily traveled Mexico City-Queretero expressway by Monday evening.