Mexico state prosecutor: 26 dead in explosion at fireworks market

World Today

Firefighters and rescue workers remove debris from the scorched ground of Mexico’s best-known fireworks market after an explosion explosion ripped through it, in Tultepec, on the outskirts of Mexico City, Mexico, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016. National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente told Milenio TV that dozens were hurt but he had no immediate report of any fatalities at the open-air San Pablito Market in Tultepec, in the State of Mexico. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Mexico State prosecutor says 26 people have been killed in a fireworks market explosion at the open-air San Pablito Market in Tultepec, in the State of Mexico.

An explosion ripped through Mexico’s best-known fireworks market on the northern outskirts of the capital Tuesday, injuring scores of people and sending a huge plume of charcoal-gray smoke billowing into the sky.

CCTV America’s Martin Markovits reports.

Mexico state prosecutor: 26 dead in explosion at fireworks market

An explosion ripped through Mexico's best-known fireworks market on the northern outskirts of the capital Tuesday, injuring scores of people and sending a huge plume of charcoal-gray smoke billowing into the sky. CCTV America's Martin Markovits reports.

Sirens wailed and a heavy scent of gunpowder lingered in the air after the afternoon blast at the market, where most of the fireworks stalls were completely leveled. The smoking, burned out shells of vehicles ringed the perimeter, and first responders and local residents wearing blue masks over their mouths combed through the rubble and ash. Firefighters hosed down still-smoldering hotspots.

Crescencia Francisco Garcia arrived in the afternoon to buy fireworks and said she was near the middle of the grid of stalls when the explosions began around 2:30 p.m.

“All of a sudden it started booming,” the 41-year-old Mexico City resident said. “I and the others surrounding me all took off running.”

Eventually Garcia was able to find her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren who were waiting in a car just inside the perimeter fence.

The Mexican Red Cross said it sent 10 ambulances with 50 paramedics to the scene.

Puente said some nearby homes were also damaged. The scene remained dangerous and he asked people not to come within 3 miles (5 kilometers) to avoid hampering the emergency response.

Fireworks continued to pop off long after the blast, and Puente added that there was no choice but to let any unexploded fireworks be consumed.

A fire engulfed the same market in 2005, touching off a chain of explosions that leveled hundreds of stalls just ahead of Mexico’s Independence Day. A similar fire at the San Pablito Market also destroyed hundreds of stands in September 2006.

Many in Mexico traditionally celebrate holidays — including Christmas and New Year’s — by setting off noisy firecrackers and rockets.

Story by The Associated Press.