Associated Press — 19 people were killed and at least 40 injured on Thursday when a series of explosions exploded through firework workshops in a town north of Mexico City.
Among the dead included four firefighters and two police officers who rushed to the scene after the first explosion, and were killed during the second blast.
Video taken from a nearby highway showed a huge plume of smoke rising up from the area of the explosions in the town of Tultepec.
Other images released by local media showed wrecked buildings and scorched ground in a rural patch of modest homes and small farm plots.
The government of the State of Mexico said in a statement that eight people from Tultepec were killed, along with the six emergency personnel and two others who have not yet been identified. The state civil defense office later raised the death toll to 19 but did not specify who the other victims were in a statement posted to its Twitter account.
Helicopters took the wounded to several local hospitals, and more than 300 police were dispatched to the scene.
The head of Mexico’s civil defense agency, Luis Felipe Puente said there were four blasts in total and the explosions started at an unauthorized, clandestine workshop before spreading as flammable material shot into the air.
“The problem was that after the first explosion, people went running to help, and when the second explosion occurred, these people who ran to help were killed,” Mr Puente told the Milenio news network.
Many residents in the town make a living by fabricating and selling homemade fireworks, and explosions are a regular occurrence. But authorities have been unable to enforce safety regulations and registration requirements.
“We cannot continue to allow this kind of situation,” said Mr Puente.