World News – An explosion blasted Mexico’s best-known fireworks market Tuesday on the northern outskirts of Mexico City, the capital, killing 31 people and injuring 72 others while sending a huge plume of charcoal-gray smoke into the sky, officials said.
Local authorities said Wednesday that the death toll had increased to 31. Earlier, Eruviel Ávila Villegas, governor of the State of Mexico, said at a news conference that 26 people were killed at the scene and that three more died later in the hospital.
Images from the scene showed smoke rising from the scorched ground and fireworks stands. Emergency crews were attending to victims and hosing down hotspots.
Federal police said on Twitter that they were working with other authorities to help the injured. They asked people near the “risk zone” in Tultepec to follow directions from specialized personnel.
The national coordinator for civil protection, Luís Felipe Puente, said some nearby homes were also damaged. The scene remained dangerous, and he asked people not to venture within 3 miles to avoid danger or hampering the emergency response. Puente added that there was no choice but to let any unexploded fireworks burn off.
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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.
by NBC NEWS and THE ASSOCIATED PRESS