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Scores injured in explosion at Mexican fireworks market

An explosion has ripped through Mexico's best-known fireworks market on the northern outskirts of the capital, injuring scores of people and sending a huge plume of smoke billowing into the sky.

National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente told Milenio TV that 60 people were hurt but he had no immediate report of any fatalities at the open-air San Pablito Market in Tultepec, in the State of Mexico.

Images broadcast by Milenio showed smoke rising from the scorched ground and fireworks stands. Emergency crews were attending to victims and hosing down hotspots.

Mr Puente said some nearby homes were also damaged. The scene remained dangerous and he asked people not to come within three miles to avoid danger or hampering the emergency response. He added that there was no choice but to let any unexploded fireworks burn off.

A fire engulfed the same market in 2005, touching off a chain of explosions that levelled hundreds of stalls just ahead of Mexico's Independence Day. A similar fire at the San Pablito Market also destroyed hundreds of stands in September 2006.

Many in Mexico traditionally celebrate holidays - including Christmas and New Year's Eve - by setting off noisy firecrackers and rockets.

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