Blasts in Mexico
Explosions kill at least 31 in fireworks market
A series of massive explosions destroyed a fireworks market outside the Mexican capital on Tuesday, killing at least 31 people, injuring dozens and leaving the market a charred wasteland.
Television images showed a flurry of multicolored pyrotechnics exploding into the early afternoon sky as a giant plume of smoke rose above the market. Fireworks detonated in a peal of clattering bursts reminiscent of a war zone.
It was the third time in just over a decade that explosions have hit the popular San Pablito marketplace in Tultepec, about 30 kilometers north of Mexico City. The detonations struck in the runup to the busy Christmas holiday, when many Mexicans stock up on fireworks.
“People were crying everywhere and desperately running in all directions,” said 20-yearold witness Cesar Carmona.
Some children suffered burns to more than 90 percent of their bodies and were being sent to the US city of Galveston in Texas for treatment, said Eruviel Avila, the governor of the state of Mexico in which Tultepec is located.
He also vowed to find and punish those responsible and to provide economic assistance to those who had lost their livelihoods.
The federal attorney general’s office opened an investigation, saying six separate blasts caused the destruction.
The federal police said a forensic team had been sent to investigate and that at least 70 people had been injured. Videos from the scene showed people frantically fleeing, while aerial footage revealed blackened stalls and a flattened tangle of metal and wood.
Inspection last month
More than 80 percent of the 300 stalls at the market were destroyed by the explosions, said state official Jose Manzur.
He said the market was inspected by safety officials last month and no irregularities were found.
Mexican media reported there were 300 metric tons of fireworks at the market at the time of the explosions.
Federico Juarez was present when the first explosion rocked the market. “Everyone started running to escape as bricks and pieces of concrete fell everywhere,” he said.
This image made from video shows an explosion ripping through the San Pablito fireworks’ market in Tultepec, Mexico, on Tuesday.