Thirteen people were confirmed dead and nearly 100 injured in a pipeline explosion in western Colombia, officials said Saturday at the conclusion of a two-day rescue and recovery mission.
The pre-dawn blast Friday ripped through a section of the pipeline near the city of Dosquebradas, creating an inferno that destroyed 35 shantytown homes and damaged 50 more.
“The search operation has ended with a total of 13 people killed and 99 injured, of whom 49 are still in medical centers,” an official of the National Risk Management Office told AFP, raising Friday’s death toll by two and the number of injured by about 20.
Authorities initially blamed the blast on fuel thieves, but later backtracked to say the pipeline was likely fractured during a ground tremor brought on by heavy rains in recent weeks.
Most of Colombia is on alert over the intense downpours which have been blamed for at least 177 deaths since September and have left thousands homeless, according to the latest report from Risk Management.