Blasts in Mex­ico

Ex­plo­sions kill at least 31 in fire­works mar­ket

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGEN­CIES in Mex­ico City

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.

JOSE LUIS TO­LENTINO VIA AP

This im­age made from video shows an ex­plo­sion rip­ping through the San Pablito fire­works’ mar­ket in Tultepec, Mex­ico, on Tues­day.

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