31 dead, 72 injured in Mexico fireworks market blast
At least 72 were wounded, the authorities said. The injured were transported to emergency rooms, and 21 have since been released.
A massive explosion destroyed a fireworks market outside the Mexican capital on Tuesday, killing at least 31 people and injuring 72, authorities said.
The blast showed a dramatic staccato of rockets exploding in flashes of light, leveling the open-air San Pablito Market in Tultepec in Mexico State as it bustled with shoppers stocking up on fireworks to celebrate Christmas and New Year, according to a Mail Today report.
Vendors' stands were reduced to piles of rubble, ash, and charred metal. It was the third devastating explosion and fire to ravage the market since 2005, the report added.
For the end-of-year festivities, the market was packed with customers buying pyrotechnics when the incident happened. Christmas and New Year's parties in many Latin American countries often wrap up with clattering firework blasts.
Media reports said the multiple explosions that started at 2:50 pm (2050 GMT) almost looked festive, alight in blue, red and white. They were anything but.
A video of the blast that rocked the open-air San Pablito market on the northern outskirts of Mexico's capital city showed fireworks shooting in every direction and smoke billowing into the sky.
Así se vivió la tragedia en #Tultepec. Así trataba la gente de escapar a la explosión de cohetes en #SanPablito. pic.twitter.com/7qWN42eqV6
— ALEJANDRO VILLALVAZO (@VILLALVAZO13) December 20, 2016
Tultepec Mayor Armando Portuguez Fuentes said the market was especially well stocked because demand for noisy firecrackers and rockets soars this time of year.
"We are obviously in the high season," Portuguez said. "There was more product than usual because we are a few days away from Christmas, a few days away from New Year's, and those are the days when the products made here are consumed the most."
Federal police said on Twitter that 70 people were hurt and were transported to emergency rooms. Fire crews struggled for three hours before bringing the blaze under control.
"I offer my condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives in this accident and my wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured," President Enrique Pena Nieto said in a tweet.