THE death toll from a fiery explosion in central Mexico rose to 85 on Sunday as authorities vowed to hold accountable those responsible for a deliberate fuel-line puncture that drew hundreds of people looking to gather gasoline before it ignited.
The search for human remains at the site of the explosion in the state of Hidalgo ended late Saturday. While families began to bury the dead, officials indicated the death toll could still rise.
Health Minister Jorge Alcocer said 85 deaths were confirmed and that another 58 people were hospitalized in Hidalgo, while others in worse conditions had been moved to Mexico City for specialized treatment.
Family members of the victims have called on the government to continue looking for remains and to bring back forensic experts for that purpose.
Funerals already have begun, but the handover of remains has been slow because many of the victims were burned beyond recognition.
The Hidalgo state prosecutor said 54 of the dead could not be readily identified, and require DNA analysis.
Mourners began arriving little by little at the home of one of the victims, while in the adjacent street a hearse carried another corpse.
“He’s gone forever,” sobbed a woman as the remains of Cesar Jimenez were transferred to a church for a funeral mass attended by dozens of relatives and friends.
At a cultural center, loved ones publicly displayed pictures of the missing.
“We are sick and tired of searching around in every hospital,” said Moises Mejia, trying to find his missing wife Karina Ugalde and her sister Angelica.
“We have some DNA from their dad to see if they are in (nearby) Tula. We want them to search more (near the blast and fire). Why did they go and move all that dirt over there?” he asked.
Another man, Antonio Garcia, wandered about searching for his nephew Lupillo, 17.
“I don’t know what he was thinking going over there,” he said. “I would always see him buying his gas (at stations). I don’t understand why he’d go over there to steal it.”