Mexico fireworks explosion leaves at least 14 dead, mostly children

A general view shows residents standing next debris after fireworks stored in a house exploded in San Isidro, Chilchotla, Mexico, on Tue., May 9, 2017.

Reuters

Last Updated May 9, 2017 4:53 PM EDT

MEXICO CITY -- An errant firecracker landed on a cache of fireworks and touched off a powerful explosion at a home in central Mexico, killing at least 14 people, 11 of them children, authorities said Tuesday.

The newspaper El Universal reported the blast in the town of San Isidro, about 150 miles east of Mexico City.

The explosion struck at about 9:30 p.m. on Monday, as residents prepared to celebrate the town's patron saint's day on May 15.

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A resident arranges votive candles next a religious image of Our Lady of Guadalupe near debris after fireworks stored in a house exploded in San Isidro, Chilchotla, Mexico, on Tue., May 9, 2017.

Reuters

El Universal cited local officials as reporting someone threw a lit firework that landed inside a building behind the local church where the pyrotechnic materials for the celebration were being stored, causing a blast that seriously damaged the structure.

"One of the rockets that are being launched into the air doesn't go up but falls instead, it turns ... and it touches down right there in the room where the pyrotechnic material was," Puebla government secretary Diodoro Carrasco said in an interview with Milenio TV.

"Totally accidental," he added.

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Residents recover belongings from debris after fireworks stored in a house exploded in San Isidro, Chilchotla, Mexico, on Tue., May 9, 2017.

Reuters

The ensuing blast blew out the walls and roof, destroying the home.

Cinco Radio posted a video on Twitter of a priest praying with community members, while images from Periodico Sintesis showed weeping residents hugging each other and walking through the wreckage of cinderblocks and twisted rebar.

Fireworks are a mainstay of holiday celebrations in Mexico, and accidental blasts are relatively common occurrences often with fatal consequences.

The tragedy in San Isidro comes four months after fire and explosions tore through a sprawling fireworks market on the outskirts of the Mexican capital, killing 33 people and wounding many more.

That blast leveled the San Pablito market in the Mexico City suburb of Tultepec, which had been previously cited for safety violations.

Carrasco said Puebla state has strong regulations in place for the production and sale of fireworks, but beyond that it can be tricky to ensure safety practices are observed.

"It is very difficult to review and oversee the cases of the whole state and more so in the mountain communities that have this tradition and have an intense program of patron fiestas. ... What is very difficult to foresee is how (fireworks) are transported, whether they are stored properly," Carrasco said.

"Unfortunately we cannot be in all places at all times," he added, "and like last night, accidents happen."

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A general view shows residents standing next debris after fireworks stored in a house exploded in San Isidro, Chilchotla, Mexico, on Tue., May 9, 2017.

Reuters