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Mexico to rebuild fireworks market; extortion a possible cause for explosions

By Andrew V. Pestano
Mexico to rebuild fireworks market; extortion a possible cause for explosions
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday visited injured victims of the San Pablito fireworks market explosion in which 35 people died. He pledged to support the firework's merchants to help them recover and resume operations next year. Photo courtesy of Enrique Peña Nieto

TULTEPEC, Mexico, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said his government will help rebuild the San Pablito fireworks market after a series of explosions killed at least 35 people.

"We talked with leaders of artisans and we committed ourselves to the 300 tenants so that next year they can restart their work," Peña Nieto after visiting victims in a hospital on Thursday.

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Tultepec's economy relies heavily on the pyrotechnics trade. The city is located north on the outskirts of Mexico City.

About 300 tons of fireworks were in the market at the time of the explosions, Mexican authorities said.

"Today I visited the injured patients from the unfortunate events that occurred in the San Pablito market of Tultepec," Peña Nieto said in a statement. "My condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives and my wishes of swift recuperation for those injured. The government of the republic stands in solidarity and works with all those affected."

El Debate reported Armando Portuguez Fuentes, the mayor of Tultepec, said there are three possible causes to the deadly incident: a dispute between fireworks merchants, banned high-explosive fireworks fell to the ground and detonated or extortionists threatening merchants for money and work detonated explosives in attempts to scare merchants, but instead set off a chain reaction.

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