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Mexico evacuates 4,500 for gasoline pipeline leak

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October 30, 2013 11:56 AM EST | AP

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Officials in western Mexico have evacuated about 4,500 people after streams of gasoline leaked from a state-owned pipeline apparently drilled open by fuel thieves.

Photos from the scene near the city of Guadalajara show what appears to be a plume of gasoline shooting into the air from the pipeline, located in a field near a housing development. The closest homes are about 150 yards (meters) from the leak.

The fuel had not yet ignited but Jalisco state Interior Secretary Arturo Zamora said Wednesday that residents were being evacuated as a preventative measure.

State-owned oil company Pemex has suffered a huge problem with illegal taps drilled into fuel pipelines. About 1,421 illegal taps were discovered in the first six months of 2013.