An explosion at the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, outside Mexico City, left at least 26 dead and dozens more injured.
TULTEPEC, Mexico – A faint smell of gunpowder was still noticeable Wednesday morning in the vicinity of the San Pablito market in this city just north of Mexicos capital.
After Tuesday evenings massive explosion destroyed 80 percent of the country largest fireworks market, the area now more closely resembles a war zone. The stalls have been reduced to charred, twisted heaps of metal. Burnt carcasses of cars riddle the parking lots on the outskirts of the market.
It felt like we were being bombarded. The explosions just kept going, I think they lasted for at least five minutes, said Óscar Chávez, a 35-year-old taxi driver who was parked a few block away from the market when the explosions started. I honestly thought for a moment that I was done for, it seemed like the explosion was going to reach us too, he told FoxNews.com
Located in Estado de México, the state that curls around Mexico City like a horseshoe, Tultepec is reeling from what has been the greatest fireworks disaster in Mexico in recent memory. As of noon, at least 31 people had died, about 60 were wounded and 12 people were still missing.
Only 13 casualties have been identified.
We have no idea where the victims are. The governments response is inadequate, we need more information, said Concepción Hernández Baez as she looked for her missing mother.
What exactly caused the explosion is still unclear; the authorities have not yet released any information as to what they believe may have happened. Soldiers and police officers sealed off the immediate surroundings of the disaster zone, only allowing family members of the victims to enter the area. On Wednesday morning investigators in white suits were scouring the ruins for clues of what may have caused the explosion.
Tultepec is no stranger to fireworks disasters. According to Milenio Noticias, a Mexico City television network, at least 68 people have died in more than 10 separate accidents over the past few decades. Those include two major explosions at the San Pablito market itself, in 2005 and 2006, in which most of the market was destroyed.