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Pemex oil pipeline blast injures 7 near Mexico City


View of a tank containing processed oil at Mexican state-owned petroleum company PEMEX refinery in Tula, Hidalgo state, Mexico on March 8, 2011.


Omar Torres

At least seven people were injured when an attempt to illegally tap into a Pemex oil pipeline caused an explosion near Mexico City on Sunday.

The blast shortly before 5 a.m. sent plumes of smoke and flames hundreds of feet into the air in Tonanitla, about 25 miles north of the capital city, according to The Associated Press.

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Five of the injured were police officers, and two worked for the fire brigade.

The 30-inch pipeline is owned by Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, which said the fire was under control several hours after the explosion.

Pemex said those who were injured got too close to the blaze and were hurt in a secondary explosion.

Two patrol cars were incinerated by the fire.

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Illegal pipeline taps are a frequent menace to Pemex, which claims it loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year to oil theft.

In January, 37 people were killed at Pemex's Mexico City headquarters when an accumulation of gas in its basement ignited.

A Pemex gas distribution plant in the northern city of Reynosa exploded in September 2012, killing another 30 people.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.