A police officer keeps watch at the perimeter of an area evacuated due a gas leak caused by a pipeline theft in Puebla, Mexico September 12, 2018. Image Credit: REUTERS

Mexico: A gas leak in the Mexican state of Puebla forced the evacuation early on Wednesday of more than 1,300 people across seven neighbourhoods in the like-named capital, officials said.

The gas leak was caused by a clandestine tap in Puebla city on a gas pipeline belonging to state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

Authorities reported that among the evacuees were as many as 190 patients from a local hospital.

The neighbourhoods endangered by the leak are Vicente Guerrero, Villa Frontera, Colonia San Pedro, Villas del Marquez, Villas de San Gregorio, Revolucion Mexicana and Venustiano Carranza, Efe reported.

The affected families had trouble leaving the emergency zone due to a shortage of public transportation in the area.

The strong gas odour, which was detected at around 4:30am in the area known as “Camino a Tlaltenongo,” prompted emergency management office personnel, firefighters and Pemex workers to activate their emergency protocols.

Pemex personnel shut off the valve located in the neighbouring state of Tlaxcala, but the leftover concentration of gas within the pipes remained flowing out for several hours.

Municipal authorities suspended classes in 17 local schools.