24 killed in Mexico fireworks depot blast

Mexico City: The death toll in a series of explosions at a fireworks depot in Mexico has risen to 24 with more than 40 people injured, authorities said.

The blasts ripped through a factory in La Saucera, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Tultepec town, on Thursday. The first one occurred around 9.30 a.m. while the second explosion occurred minutes later when police and rescue workers arrived to help the victims, the BBC reported.

Authorities said the casualties included four firefighters, five policemen and a minor, the BBC reported. Tultepec, about 30 km from Mexico City, is known for its fireworks production.

Mexico’s Interior Minister Alejandro Ozuna called for an “exhaustive review” of all the workshop’s permits after the blast, saying the manufacturing “must be regulated” for people’s safety.

At least four workshops were destroyed, the local media said. A fire triggered by the blasts was said to have been brought under control.

In a Twitter post, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto regretted “the loss of lives in the Tultepec explosion” and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

“We deeply regret the deaths, including those of fellow firefighters and police officers who saved many lives in exchange for their own,” the state’s Red Cross office said via Twitter.

Images taken from a distance of the first blast showed a tall plume of white smoke billowing into the sky, while closer video footage taken after the second explosion showed firefighting crews hosing down burnt rubble outside the destroyed factory.

Tultepec produces some 25 tonnes of firecrackers and fireworks each year. In the past two years, explosions at licensed and makeshift factories, and the local fireworks market, have killed scores.

Barely a month ago, on June 6, seven people were killed and nearly 100 homes were damaged after an illegal cache of gunpowder exploded.

The worst incident occurred in December 2016, when firecrackers and fireworks unintentionally set off at one of the market stalls, sparked a chain reaction of explosions that killed 42 merchants and customers.

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