At least 1 dead, 7 injured when fire erupts as they gather fuel near tapped pipeline in Mexico

A fire broke out as people gathered fuel left near an illegal tap on an oil pipeline in southern Mexico, and at least one person died and seven others were injured, authorities said Wednesday.

The civil defense office in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco initially reported seven injuries, but searchers discovered the burned body of a man later in the day, spokesman Gustavo Notario said. He said all the injured remained in critical condition.

The state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, said in a statement that the fire ignited late Tuesday in a pool of fuel left by thieves after they drilled a tap into a pipeline.

The company had sealed the tap, but some fuel collected near the end of a 150-meter (490-foot) hose used by the thieves, and local residents were apparently trying to collect it. The pipeline itself was not affected by the fire.

Illegal pipeline taps in Mexico have risen by about 55 percent this year, reaching almost 500 a month.

Last March, at least 20 people died In Tabasco when they tried to take gasoline from a wrecked gasoline tanker.