Latest news suggests that the death toll from Tuesday’s massive fireworks market explosion in Tultepec, Mexico has risen to at least 32. At this stage, a total of 46 victims still remain in both nearby Mexican and U.S. hospitals.
The fiery event took place at San Pablito Market, which is known as Mexico’s most popular fireworks retail area, precedes a history of fireworks explosions that have occurred in the country. The town, which lies just outside the boundaries of Mexico City, has seen two previous blasts over the years.
Of the casualties, it seems that many young children sustained injuries during the disaster. During a press conference, officials made mention of a 13-year old girl who was suffering from life-threatening burns that they were hoping to transfer to a U.S. hospital. The next day, Mexico State’s Health Secretary Cesar Gomez Mange tweeted that a total of three children, aged 2, 4, and 13, had been transferred to a specialized hospital in Galveston, Texas.
Chilling Eyewitness Testimony of Fireworks Market Explosion
One witness, 12-year old Yahir David Sanchez Ortega told NBC News that he was about to buy an item when “all the bricks from the fireworks market started flying.” The boy went on to explain a bit of what he saw amidst the chaos; “Everything was exploding until you went deaf, where you couldn’t hear all the noise. I felt like the roof was going to cave and crush my head. I thought I was going to die.”
At this point, officials are not releasing a cause as to why the deadly event may have struck in the first place. What they do know is that a bulk of the damage was caused by a chain reaction of fiery blasts.
— ✖️️Ingrid ❌ (@inmillling) December 20, 2016
Ironically, according to the Los Angeles Times, just eight days before Tuesday’s tragedy, town officials made public claims regarding the level of safety in the market San Pablito Market itself.
A December 12th press release by these city officials quoted Juan Ignacio Rodarte Cordero, who is the director general of the Mexican Institute of Pyrotechnics, in regards to the design of the merchant stalls. The director general said they were “perfectly designed and with sufficient space to avoid a chain-reaction conflagration in the case of a spark.”
The press release was meant to assure the customers, as well as nearby residents as to the safety of the fireworks market.
Between this past August and the time of the incident, authorities believe that more than 100 tons of fireworks had been sold at the market.