Update: Mexican authorities have released a Sunday morning casualty update from Friday's chilling fireball that burst from an illegal gas pipeline tap near a small town north of Mexico City, which occurred just three weeks after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador involved the country's military in an initiative to combat gas thieves.
Authorities have raised the death toll from the blast to 78, while 81 have been hospitalized with injuries.
Here's more from the Associated Press' latest update:
They were warned to stay away from the geyser of gasoline gushing from the illegally tapped pipeline in central Mexico, but Gerardo Perez says he and his son joined others in bypassing the soldiers. As they neared the spurting fuel he was overcome with foreboding.
Perez recalls telling his son: "Let's go ... this thing is going to explode."
And it did, with a fireball that engulfed locals scooping up the spilling gasoline and underscored the dangers of an epidemic of fuel theft from pipelines that Mexico's new president has vowed to fight.
By Sunday morning the death toll from Friday's blaze had risen to 79, with another 81 hospitalized in serious condition, according to federal Health Minister Jorge Alcocer. Dozens more were missing.
'Perez and his son escaped the flames. On Saturday, he returned to the scorched field in the town of Tlahuelilpan in Hidalgo state to look for missing friends. It was a fruitless task. Only a handful of the remains still had skin. Dozens were burned to the bone or to ash when the gusher of gasoline exploded.
Just a few feet from where the pipeline passed through an alfalfa field, the dead seem to have fallen in heaps, perhaps as they stumbled over each other or tried to help one another as the geyser of gasoline turned to flames.
Several of the deceased lay on their backs, their arms stretched out in agony. Some seemed to have covered their chests in a last attempt to protect themselves from the blast. A few corpses seemed to embrace each other in death. Lost shoes were scattered around a space the size of a soccer field. Closer to the explosion, forensic workers marked mounds of ash with numbers.
With so many hospitalized with serious burns, the death toll is expected to climb.
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Extremely disturbing footage of the aftermath of a giant fireball that burst from an illegal gasoline pipeline tap near a small town north of Mexico City has surfaced online.
As we reported earlier, at least 66 people have been confirmed dead after a geyser of gasoline ignited at the site of the illegal tap, instantly engulfing the surrounding area in flames.
Reports from the scene described piles of charred bodies so badly burned that responders struggled to separate and identify the individuals.
In the video, people are seen throwing themselves on the grass and in water to try and extinguish the flames.
The horrific incident took place as locals had gathered around a ruptured Pemex pipeline to collect the fuel that was spilling out. The company blamed the fire on thieves drilling into the pipe.