Forensic personnel work at the site of a pipeline explosion in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo state, Mexico, on Jan. 19, 2019. (Xinhua/Carolina Endara)
MEXICO CITY, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- The fuel pipeline explosion in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo has killed at least 79 people and injured 81 others, Minister of Public Health Jorge Alcocer said Sunday.
"There are still patients who sustained serious injuries, with burns of more than 80 percent," said the official in a press conference, accompanied by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1, said in the press conference that his government will not back down on the measures that have been undertaken since the end of last year to fight against fuel theft.
"We are not going to give up, and I offer to the people apologies if this action causes sacrifices, damages and inconveniences," he said.
"We have to do it ... Mexico needs to end corruption and it is not negotiable," he added.
According to the latest figures from the government, fuel theft cost the country some 3 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.
The explosion and ensuing blaze occurred at a pipeline spot in the community of San Primitivo of the municipality of Tlahuelilpan at around 7:00 p.m. local time on Friday (0100 GMT Saturday).
The accident is one of the worst tragedies caused by pipeline explosions in Mexico in recent years.
In December 2010, 30 people were killed and 52 others injured in a series of explosions involving two oil pipelines in the central state of Puebla.