Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Horror blast at village procession

Emergency workers search for human remains in a ditch after a truck loaded with fireworks exploded during a religious procession (AP)

A lorry loaded with fireworks exploded during a religious procession in a rural Mexican village, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 150.

The horrific blast happened when a firework malfunctioned and landed on the lorry, igniting the fireworks it carried. Seventy people were burned or had other injuries and at least 45 were taken to hospitals, authorities in the neighbouring states of Tlaxcala and Puebla said.

"They were in a procession, they were shooting off rockets and it exploded and fell on to the other ones," said Jose Mateo Morales, director of the Tlaxcala state civil protection department. "It was very serious."

Human remains and burned clothes were spread around a 100-yard radius, including on rooftops, a photographer at the scene said.

The victims were marching in an annual procession in honour of Jesus Christ, the patron saint of Jesus Tepactepec, a village of about 1,000 people, Mateo Morales said.

At least one child was among the victims, Tlaxcala governor Mariano Gonzalez said.

Helicopters, dozens of ambulances and soldiers from the area's military base rushed to the village, about 70 miles east of Mexico City.

Tlaxcala bishop Francisco Moreno said he toured the scene of the blast and went to hospitals to visit the wounded. "I blessed all who died and said a prayer for them," he said in his Twitter account.

Fireworks are a typical feature of Mexican holidays and religious celebrations but they often are manufactured, stored and transported under unsafe conditions, and the country sees periodic fatal explosions.

Jesus Tepactepec is known for its handicrafts manufacturing, including baskets and wood figures, and its annual religious celebration draws artisans from nearby towns who come to sell their wares.