Wednesday, December 28, 2016


This is supposed to be the season to be jolly, but reality sets in and it just seems anything but possible to be. There’re just so many things going wrong in the world lately, from wars to terrorism to international tensions to – depending on one’s point of view – the rising tide of populism and the uncomfortable side-effects that come with it. Ideally all that baggage would get set aside for December when most of the world tries to celebrate their most festive holidays. No dice with his one however; what appears to be an accident has sparked a tragedy south of the border that has left a bad taste of Christmas in the mouths of many.

USA Today covers the near cataclysmic explosion and fire that ripped through a holiday fireworks market in Tultepec, north of Mexico City, last Tuesday December 20. As eyewitnesses stood stock-still in horror at the sight of a column of black smoke rising into the air, accentuated by the staccato of multiple pyrotechnics cooking off into bright flashes and puffs, about 29 people at the blast site were killed and 50 more injured, some in the mad rush to get away from the impromptu inferno.

According to Governor Eruviel Avila of Mexico State, the casualty toll was expected due to the explosion happening during the day, when the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec was packed with pyrotechnic shoppers in anticipation of the upcoming Christmas Eve. Three of the wounded were minors with extreme levels of third degree burns, and were transferred for treatment up north at a Galveston, Texas hospital. Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire that ignited the rest of the merchandise, which was captured on multiple video footages around the general area. All through the evening of Tuesday, more of the wounded succumbed and were added to the 29 dead.

In response to the fiery explosive emergency, the Mexican Red Cross deployed ten ambulances to the scene with about 50 paramedics. While they struggled to stabilize the conditions of the casualties who were removed from the burning marketplace, firefighters battled the blaze, which has left charred hulks out of firework stalls and parked vehicles. Other responders and local residents risked the possible resurgence of flames and exploding firecrackers to comb the ashes for any survivors or bodies.

It’s tradition in Mexico to celebrate not only the New Year but Christmas Eve with a display of fireworks and the use of noisemakers out of their own homes. This freak accident feels like it has sapped the jubilation out of the Holiday Spirit in Mexico, described by Governor Avila as “in mourning”. President Enrique Peña Nieto also expressed his condolences to the departed and wishes for recovery of the survivors on his Twitter page.

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