MEXICO: Death toll rises to 79 for pipeline explosion

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A Mexican official says the death toll from an explosion at a punctured pipeline in central Mexico has risen to 79.

Dozens more are missing and dozens of bodies have yet to be identified.

Forensic experts continue to search the site for remains.

Many of the victims were reduced to ashes. 

Family members gathered at the site Saturday hoping to find loved ones.

The disaster happened friday night when a gusher of gasoline burst into a fireball.

People collecting fuel in containers were engulfed in the flames.

Theft of fuel from pipelines has become epidemic in Mexico.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he will reinforce security along the country’s pipeline network, if necessary.

His administration has been transporting more fuel by truck in an attempt to discourage theft.

Lopez Obrador defended the Mexican Army despite its failure to move people away from the punctured pipeline before the blast.

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