Hundreds of emergency responders swarmed a highway near the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec on Tuesday after an oil tanker exploded, killing 18 and injuring three dozen.
Nearby homes and structures were gutted by flames, and residents fled, The Associated Press reported.
The death toll could rise, as responders pull more bodies from the debris, AP said.
"We just pulled burned people, and put out the fire in [nearby] houses, but we don't really know what happened," said Rogelio Martinez, a resident who lives nearby the site of the crash, AP reported.
Local media showed video of flames shooting into the sky, and victims wandering in various stages of shock. The blast had such force that a huge piece of the tanker truck's gas tank was blown on top of a wall, 50 yards away, AP reported.
Twenty homes and a school are destroyed, AP said.
"People are very shaken, above all because of the injuries and the large number of dead," said Ecatepec Mayor Pablo Bedolla, in the AP report. "I've spoken with the families of the victims, and they are just sobbing."
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