Earlier today, fireworks explosions outside of Mexico City killed at least 19 people, and injured dozens of others, Fox News reports.
The accident occurred at a fireworks workshop north of the capitol, in the municipality of Tultepec. Nineteen people were killed as a result of two separate explosions, including four firefighters and two law enforcement officers who were killed by the second blast, while they were responding to the first.
Luis Felipe Puente, a government worker at Mexico’s civil protection agency, relayed to local media that close to two dozen people had been killed, and 40 had been injured (differing numbers of injured people are being reported by various news outlets). In total, Puente said there had been four explosions.
Even worse, it seems that these explosions occurred at an unauthorized, illegal fireworks workshop, with the explosions spreading as flammable materials were spread from the blasts. Speaking to Milenio news network, Puente elaborated on the timeline of the accident.
“The problem was that after the first explosion, people went running to help, and when the second explosion occurred, these people who ran to help were killed.”
While it will take some time for all the damage and casualties to be assessed, initial reports paint a rather grim picture. As reported by CBS News, video footage shot from a nearby road shows massive plumes of smoke rising up from Tultepec and the surrounding area. Other images captured by local news agencies show destroyed buildings, as well as scorched ground and farm land.
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Similar to the police officers and firefighters killed in the blast, the Mexican government has stated that other first responders were injured in the line of duty. Helicopters were dispatched to transport those wounded to local hospitals. More than 300 law enforcement officers were dispatched to the scene.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Tultepec has been subjected to accidents of this nature. The area has become a noted location for fireworks, with many of the town’s residents earning a living by manufacturing and distributing homemade fireworks.
Consequently, explosions have become a common occurrence. Just last month, seven people were killed and eight injured from a fireworks blast. In December of 2016, a massive fire broke out at an outdoor fireworks market, which was filled with holiday shoppers. Several dozen people were killed as a result.
Safety measures and rules at fireworks markets and workshops have been a constant source of debate in the region. While laws and regulations have been signed into effect, it seems that clandestine manufacturers continue to skirt and ignore the laws.