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Authorities Seeking Cause, Identities of Victims in Mexico Fireworks Blast

  • VOA News

A man walks through the scorched ground of the open-air San Pablito fireworks market, in Tultepec, outskirts of Mexico City, Mexico, Dec. 20, 2016.

Mexican authorities say they have not yet identified 10 of the 33 people who died as a result of explosions at a fireworks market near Mexico City.

As of late Wednesday, the government in the state of Mexico listed more than 40 people still hospitalized from Tuesday’s blast at the San Pablito market in the city of Tultepec, 30 kilometers from the capital.

The market was packed with shoppers buying fireworks for the Christmas and New Year holidays when a series of explosions erupted, destroying most of the stalls and sending people running as pillars of smoke rose into the sky.

Forensic experts are using genetic analysis in an attempt to identify burned remains.

“I thought we were all going to die,” market worker Luis Hernandez told a reporter. “People were running. Children were shouting. Lots of burned people were walking around, not knowing what to do. And we didn’t know what to do, either, because we were afraid the explosions would start again.”

Watch: Eyewitness video from scene of explosion


The federal attorney general’s office said there were six explosions. An investigation is underway into possible violations of fire and explosives laws, and to determine whether anyone should be held responsible for the tragedy.

Blasts and fires destroyed market stalls at the same fireworks bazaar in 2005 and 2006.

Emergency crews had to wait several hours before it was safe for them to enter the smoking ruins of the market to look for victims Tuesday.

Meanwhile, relatives of those who died waited outside a morgue in Barrientos to find their loved ones.

President Enrique Pena Nieto regretted the loss of life and said Wednesday during a visit to inaugurate a hospital that the blast was “an explosion of great magnitude.”

“As a sign of solidarity, which Mexicans set aside, we can have a moment of silence for all of those who lost their lives in this very regrettable accident in which they were working for their families, to provide sustenance to their homes, and regrettably this explosion caused them to lose their lives,” he said.

President Enrique Pena Nieto used Twitter to send condolences to the families of those killed and to wish the injured a speedy recovery.

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