A huge series of massive explosions at a fireworks market in Mexico on Tuesday killed at least 31 people and injured scores more.
The catastrophe occurred at the San Pablito market, about 20 miles north of Mexico City, reports Reuters.
From afar, the scene unfolded like a surreal war zone.
“Everything was destroyed. It was very ugly and many bodies were thrown all over the place, including a lot of children,” Angelica Avila, who witnessed the disaster, told Reuters. “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Avila, 24, said her brother, a fireworks vendor, was seriously injured in the blast. He was burned and suffered a heart attack.
A Mexican government spokesman said that over 70 people were injured in the explosion.
The death toll of 31 could rise, as 53 people remain missing.
December is a big month for fireworks sales in Mexico. Many people buy fireworks for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The San Pablito fireworks market — home to some 300 now-pulverized vending stalls — was the site of similar, smaller-scale explosions in both 2005 and 2006.
Safety officials inspected the marketplace last month and reported nothing out of the ordinary.
Nevertheless, early speculation locally is that a lack of safety measures is the likely cause of the deadly explosions.