An explosion at a fireworks market outside Mexico City Tuesday killed at least 27 people and injured dozens, according to local emergency services.
The blast struck the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, about 20 miles north of Mexico City, injuring dozens
Local media broadcasts showed images of a flurry of fireworks exploding in all directions as a massive plume of smoke rose above the market.
Sirens wailed and a heavy scent of gunpowder lingered in the air after the afternoon blast at the market, where most of the fireworks stalls were completely leveled. The smoking, burned-out shells of vehicles ringed the perimeter, and first responders and local residents wearing blue masks over their mouths combed through the rubble and ash. Firefighters hosed down still-smoldering hotspots.
Crescencia Francisco Garcia arrived in the afternoon to buy fireworks and said she was near the middle of the grid of stalls when the explosions began around 2:30 p.m.
“All of a sudden it started booming,” the 41-year-old Mexico City resident said. “I and the others surrounding me all took off running.”
Garcia was eventually able to find her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren who were waiting in a car just inside the perimeter fence.
The Mexican Red Cross said it sent 10 ambulances with 50 paramedics to the scene.
Puente said some nearby homes were also damaged. The scene remained dangerous and he asked people not to come within 3 miles to avoid hampering the emergency response.
Fireworks continued to pop off long after the blast, and Puente added that there was no choice but to let any unexploded fireworks be consumed.
Updated Tuesday, December 20, 2016 at 6:48 pm .