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Explosion at Mexico fireworks market kills dozens

By Doug G. Ware and Stephen Feller
Explosion at Mexico fireworks market kills dozens
Members of the Mexican Civil Protection work at the site of an explosion, at a fireworks market in the municipality of Tultepec, Mexico, on Tuesday. According to State of Mexico Gov. Eruviel Avila, the number of people killed after several explosions rocked the fireworks market has risen to 29. The governor said at a press conference that 26 people died at the scene of the incident and that three others later died in hospitals where the wounded are being treated. In addition, the Federal Police confirmed that in a preliminary count 70 people were injured and they have already been transferred to various hospitals nearby. Photo courtesy Stringer/European Pressphoto Agency

MEXICO CITY, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- An explosion at a fireworks market in central Mexico killed at least 29 people and injured dozens more Tuesday, local authorities said.

The blast occurred at the San Pablito district, about 20 miles outside Mexico City in Tultepec. Officials said it wasn't immediately clear what set off the explosion.

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The explosion is the third at the market since 2005. The market was reduced to a pile of rubble and burned-out fireworks stands.

"We are obviously in the high season," said Tultepec Mayor Armando Portuguez Fuentes. "There was more product than usual because we are a few days away from Christmas, a few days away from New Year's, and those are the days when the products made here are consumed the most."

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Around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, fireworks at the market started going off, spreading through the booths, creating what some said was a continuous stream of explosions. When the explosions started, there were about 2,000 people at the market, officials said.

Many who were killed in the explosions were burned so badly it will require DNA testing in order to identify them. Most of those hurt were badly burned, some on more than 90 percent of their bodies. At least 10 children were injured in the blast, with some burned so badly officials are sending them to a specialized treatment center in Texas.

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"My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this accident and my wishes for a quick recovery for the injured," Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted late Tuesday.

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