MEXICO CITY (CBSNewYork/AP) — An explosion ripped through Mexico’s best-known fireworks market on the northern outskirts of the capital Tuesday, killing dozens of people and injuring scores more while sending a huge plume of charcoal-gray smoke billowing into the sky.
The Mexico State Prosecutor says 29 people have been killed. CBS2 reported that at least 70 more were hurt.
“My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this accident and my wishes for a quick recovery for the injured,” said President Enrique Pena Nieto via Twitter.
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.
National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe 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 danger or hampering the emergency response. Puente added that there was no choice but to let any unexploded fireworks burn off.
The Mexican Red Cross said it sent 10 ambulances with 50 paramedics to the scene.
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.
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