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New Year's Eve Explosion Kills 28 in Mexican Market - 2003-01-01

Emergency workers in Veracruz, Mexico, are combing through a burned out marketplace in search of victims of a fireworks explosion and fire that left at least 28 people dead. At least 41 people were injured and scores more are missing.

Local officials say the New Year's Eve incident happened when a spark set off boxes of fireworks being sold illegally at the Hidalgo market. The blast triggered a fast-moving fire that spread to neighboring businesses.

City officials say they tried to shut down the illegal fireworks stands last week, but were forced away by vendors ahead of the New Year's Day holiday.

Fireworks are popular in Mexico, especially on major holidays and at religious festivals, but accidents are common. In September, 1999, an explosion in an illegal fireworks factory in the central town of Celaya killed at least 56 people.