On Tuesday, at least 60 people were injured and at least nine killed when an explosion at a fireworks market near Mexico City set the sky ablaze with smoke and pyrotechnics. As emergency workers rushed to the market in Tultepec, many were left wondering what caused the Mexico City fireworks explosion. However, the cause of the explosion was not immediately clear.
Update: According to a tweet from the Associate Press, the Mexico State prosecutor said that 26 people died in the blast. That number may continue to climb.
A stunning video taken from a nearby car showed the scene at the popular, open-air San Pablito Market, located about 25 miles north of Mexico City, as more and more fireworks exploded into the sky. Even after the initial blast, fireworks continued to go off, leading National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente to ask people not to come within three miles of the scene because the fireworks market remained dangerous, and because they might interfere with the emergency response. He also said that emergency responders did not have any choice but to let any unexploded fireworks be consumed, likely a big blow to those making their livelihood at the market.
In response to the tragedy, Mexico's president, Enrique Pena Nieto, wrote on Twitter, "My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this accident and my wishes for a quick recovery for the injured."
The market was undoubtedly crowded at this time of year, with families coming to get supplies for the popular holiday tradition of setting off fireworks on days like Christmas and New Years.
And, as is perhaps to be expected for a place housing a large collection of fireworks, the market has dealt with some similar incidents in the past, although not to the same, devastating extent. In 2005, a fire ravaged the market, and the ensuing explosions destroyed hundreds of stalls, with a similar fire happening the very next year.
Photographs from the aftermath of the fireworks explosion show large swaths of the market completely leveled, with firefighters and other emergency responders standing amongst the burnt rubble of what was, hours before, a celebratory, bustling scene. Local residents came to help the first responders, looking through the ashes while protecting their mouths with blue masks, all while smoke continued to hover in the sky.
Our hearts go out to all those who were affected by the blast.