MEXICO CITY – A series of explosions on Thursday at an unlicensed fireworks factory in the central Mexican city of Tultepec left 24 people dead and 49 wounded, the Mexico state government said.
Seventeen people were pronounced dead at the scene and seven others died at hospitals in the area, the state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
The fatalities include at least one minor and seven firefighters, authorities said.
Maribel Cervantes, the head of the state Public Safety Department, said that additional blasts occurred after emergency personnel were on site responding to the initial explosion.
On instructions from Gov. Alfredo del Mazo, the state government will cover the medical costs of the injured, Health Secretary Gabriel O’Shea said.
The first explosion took place at 9:40 am, setting off a chain reaction that led to as many as three more blasts, the Mexico state AG Office said, while national emergency services coordinator Luis Felipe Puente didn’t hesitate to blame the disaster on “mishandling of fireworks.”
In a message posted on Twitter, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto “deeply” lamented the loss of life.
“I send my condolences to the family members of those who were killed, and I wish a quick recovery to those who were injured,” Peña Nieto said, adding that the military and federal agencies were providing assistance to the Mexico state government.
Thursday’s blast was the third deadly incident in less than a month in Tultepec, Mexico’s fireworks capital.
On June 6, an explosion in a house that was being used to store fireworks left six people dead and eight injured.
Less than three weeks later, another person died and six were injured during a series of explosions in a fireworks warehouse and in two workshops.
The deadliest incident in Tultepec in the last few years took place in December 2016, when a fireworks explosion in the local market killed 42 people.