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Burned-out buses in Villahermosa Burned-out buses after this morning's fire. televisa

Fire in Villahermosa destroys 47 buses

Thieves might have set the fire while stealing fuel from the vehicles' tanks

Forty-seven transit buses were destroyed early this morning when fire swept through the lot in which they were parked in the Tabasco capital of Villahermosa.

No one was hurt in the blaze, which erupted about 3:00am and took more than six hours to extinguish.

At least 16,000 commuters were affected this morning.

Authorities said they were pursuing three lines of investigation: that thieves were stealing fuel from the vehicles’ tanks when the fire broke out, that it was deliberately set due to rivalry between bus services or there was an electrical short circuit.

The second now appears unlikely as the latest reports indicate that all 47 buses were owned by one company, Sistema de Transporte Transbús. A company spokesman said it carries only third-party liability insurance so there is no coverage for the loss of the vehicles.

However, a financing program provided by the federal Secretariat of Communications and Transportation is expected to enable the company to replace the lost buses.

The loss was estimated at 60 million pesos in total, 40 million for the vehicles and 20 million for the electronic payment system installed in each bus.

Footage from video surveillance cameras installed in the lot in which the buses were parked was being examined today for clues as to the cause of the fire.

Source: El Universal (sp), 24 Horas (sp)

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