The Latest: Mexico explosion death toll hits 66; 85 missing

The Latest: Mexico explosion death toll hits 66; 85 missing
In this image provided by the Secretary of National Defense, soldiers guard in the area near an oil pipeline explosion in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo state, Mexico, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. A huge fire exploded at a pipeline leaking fuel in central Mexico on Friday, killing at least 21 people and badly burning 71 others as locals were collecting the spilling gasoline in buckets and garbage cans, officials said. Officials said the leak was caused by an illegal tap that fuel thieves had drilled into the pipeline in a small town in the state of Hidalgo, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) north of Mexico City. (Secretary of National Defense via AP)

TLAHUELILPAN, Mexico (AP) — The Latest on a pipeline fire in Mexico (all times local):

7:45 a.m.

Hidalgo state Gov. Omar Fayad says the death toll from a pipeline explosion in central Mexico has risen to 66.

Over 85 other people on Saturday were listed as missing a day after a massive fireball erupted at an illegal pipeline tap in the small town of Tlahuelilpan, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) north of Mexico City.

Municipal health director Jorge Aguilar Lopez said: “What happened here should serve as an example for the whole nation to unite behind the fight that the president is carrying out against this ill.”

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

It is now likely to further intensify efforts to crack down on the illegal taps and focus attention on Lopez Obrador’s fight against the billion per-year illegal fuel theft industry.