Mexico fireworks market blast kills at least 29, scores hurt
An explosion ripped through Mexico's best-known fireworks market on the northern outskirts of the capital.
Tultepec: At least 29 people died in a massive explosion at a fireworks market outside the Mexican capital on Tuesday.
The blast at the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Mexico City, also injured at least 70 others, according to a tweet from federal police.
The market had been packed with customers buying pyrotechnics for traditional end-of-year festivities.
Christmas and New Year`s parties in many Latin American countries often wrap up with clattering firework blasts.
Aerial footage showed charred stalls and destroyed buildings.
Television images showed a flurry of 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, as per Reuters.
The technicolor blast was the third such explosion in just over a decade to hit the popular San Pablito marketplace.
"We recovered 26 bodies at the scene of the incident. And three more have died in the hospital, for a total of 29 dead," Mexico state`s governor Eruviel Avila said, as per AFP.
Fire crews struggled for three hours before bringing the blaze under control.The head of the civil protection service, Luis Felipe Puente, said crews had to wait for all the fireworks to finish exploding before they could extinguish the flames.
"The entire market is gone," he said.
Homes and vehicles nearby were also severely damaged. In some areas, authorities were gently probing for survivors under heaps of charred and twisted roofing material.
Over 80 percent of the 300 stalls at the market were destroyed by the explosion, said state official Jose Manzur.
Local media reported there were 300 tonnes of fireworks at the market at the time of the explosion.
"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.
Pena Nieto is the former governor of the State of Mexico, the country`s largest which surrounds the capital.
The cause of the blast was under investigation. Some speculated it could have been mishandling of gunpowder or other fireworks components.
(With Agency inputs)