by Luis Brito
HIDALGO, Mexico, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Almost two days after a devastating pipeline blast and fire, residents of the small town of Tlahuelilpan in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo are still searching for their missing families and relatives.
Maria de Jesus, 22, spent Saturday morning trying to find information about her husband.
With a photo of him in her hand, and a look of anguish on her face, she went to different information booths authorities set up around the town to inform families about the fate of their loved ones.
"So far, they have no information. They don't know whether he is at the hospital," said the mother of three.
Eyewitnesses say the impact of the blast felt like an earthquake. Dozens were engulfed in flames, and still others fled the scene while on fire.
About 150 villagers broke through a military barrier to search among the bodies for relatives who had not returned home after going to the leak to get gasoline.
Most of the 79 fatal victims were burnt beyond recognition.
The villagers searched for watches, key rings or other identifying items that had withstood the fire.
Outside the city hall, where there is a list of the missing, Norma, a vendor, said her brother Omar Vazquez is in hospital with burns while she was still looking for another relative.
She suspected that her brother, a locksmith, went to the site of the tragedy to get gasoline after learning of the leak through chats on social networks.
Experts are preparing genetic tests on over 50 unidentified remains. The process, according to Hidalgo's attorney general Raul Arroyo, could take "a considerable time."
In the meantime, residents will continue searching for the missing.
"There is a lot of sadness in our town ... unfortunately, probably due to recklessness," said Norma.