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Mexico village farewells dead from fireworks blast

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Family and friends mourn the death of their loved ones during the massive wake in San Isidro Chilchotla, Puebla state, Mexico on May 9, 2017, after an explosion at a fireworks warehouse killed 14, all but three of them children, in a poor Mexican village as it celebrated a religious festival. / AFP PHOTO / JOSE CASTAÑARES

Screams and tears burst forth in this Mexican village on Wednesday when small white coffins arrived for the bodies of nearly a dozen children killed in an accidental fireworks warehouse explosion two days before.

In all, 14 people died in San Isidro, in the central state of Puebla, on Monday night. Eleven of them were children.

The tragedy occurred five months after blasts in a fireworks market near Mexico City killed 42 people, highlighting the dangers of stocked pyrotechnics in the country, where families often poorly store explosives used to mark religious festivals.

The national civil protection service said after the latest deaths that new safety regulations would soon be introduced, though no ban was envisaged.

“We know a ban would affect thousands of families. We are not thinking of stopping this activity,” the head of the service, Luis Felipe Puente, told reporters.

In San Isidro, a priest recited prayers into a microphone, near to where flowers and candles had been left.

Lucia Nanco, a 51-year-old woman, was with her young niece, who would not talk.

“This little girl is now with me because her father is dead,” killed in Monday’s explosion, she explained.

Nanco also lost her 27-year-old son, Pablo Luna, in the blast.

The explosion also left 22 people injured, three of whom were in critical condition.

Residents said fireworks were being set off as part of preliminary festivities ahead of the feast of the village’s patron saint on March 15.

People “were together, drinking, having tacos, and the children milled around as usual — it’s a cultural tradition,” said one female villager, 59, who did not give her name.


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