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The death toll in a Mexican oil pipeline explosion jumped to 73 Saturday night, after a horror fireball engulfed a crowd gathering gasoline from an illegal pipeline tap, burned off their skin and reduced some bodies to ash.
On Saturday morning, forensic experts grimly attempted to separate and count charred heaps of corpses after the massive fireball erupted in a small town in the central Mexico state of Hidalgo.
Hidalgo - Governor - Omar - Fayad - People
Hidalgo Governor Omar Fayad said 73 people were killed and 74 people injured in the explosion, which happened as residents scrambled to get buckets and drums to a gush at the pipeline that authorities said rose up to 23 feet (7 meters) high.
Just a few feet from where the pipeline passed through an alfalfa field, the dead seemed to have fallen in heaps, perhaps as they stumbled over each other or tried to help one another in the moments after a geyser of gasoline shot into the air Friday.
Hidalgo - Attorney - General - Raul - Arroyo
Hidalgo Attorney General Raul Arroyo said 54 bodies were so badly burned that they could take a long time to identify.
Local journalist Veronica Jimenez, 46, arrived at the scene before the explosion where she said there were more than 300 people with containers to collect fuel.
Saw - Families - Mother - Father - Children
'I saw families: mother, father, children,' she told Reuters. 'It was like a party...for a moment you could even hear how happy people were.'
When the blast hit, people ran in different directions, pleading for help, some burned and without clothing, she said.
People - Skin - People - Names - Husbands
'Some people's skin came off...it was very ugly, horrible, people screamed and cried,' she said. 'They shouted the names of their husbands, brothers, their family members.'
One witness described how an almost festive atmosphere among hundreds of local residents filling containers with spilled fuel turned to horror as the blast scattered the crowd in all directions, incinerating...
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Drove my Ford to the fjord, but the fjord was dry. . .