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Thieves cause diesel pipeline spill

January 11, 2008|From the Associated Press

VERACRUZ, MEXICO — Thieves ruptured a pipeline that crosses the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, spilling at least 79,000 gallons of diesel fuel Thursday and forcing the evacuation of at least 350 people.

The diesel spilled across at least 1,000 square feet in Rio Blanco, 80 miles west of Veracruz city, said state civil protection director Ranulfo Marquez Hernandez. He said no one was injured.

State-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said it had not yet determined the amount of fuel spilled but said the leak was blocked soon after it was discovered.

Fuel shot 25 feet into the air from the pipeline, according to residents, who told city officials that people who clearly were not Pemex workers had been extracting the fuel since Wednesday morning, Marquez said.

Authorities are struggling to stop the theft of Pemex fuel. A smuggling network in Veracruz supplies a vast black market.

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