At least 19 people were killed in a series of explosions Thursday at fireworks warehouses in the town of Tultepec in central Mexico , including rescue workers who died saving others ’ lives , officials said .
The initial explosion occurred around 9 : 30 am ( 1430 GMT ) , then spread to other warehouses just as police and firefighters began attending to the first victims in the town , which is known for its artisanal fireworks — and a history of deadly accidents.
“ We deeply regret the deaths of those who were killed this morning in … Tultepec , including our firefighter and police colleagues who lost their lives saving those of many others , ” read a tweet from the Red Cross in the state of Mexico , where Tultepec is located.
At least 19 people were killed — including a minor — and 40 wounded, said state Interior Minister Alejandro Ozuna .
Hundreds of soldiers , police and firefighters deployed to the neighborhood of Xahuento , on the outskirts of the town , cordoning off a wide area around the smoldering workshops where the explosions ocurred .
“ I was having breakfast when there was a terrible blast . We left the house running and I saw a huge white cloud in the sky, as if it were going to rain — except today it rained fire , ” said Alondra Perez , 62 , who lives across the road .
An anguished teenager was asking rescue workers for information about his father , a fireworks maker who worked in the area .
“ The last time I saw him was this morning. I left school to look for him as soon as we heard about the explosion. But they won ’ t let me through and nobody is giving me any information , ” said Allan Osvaldo , 14 .
Rescue workers confirmed that some of their own had been caught in the explosions , though it was not immediately clear how many .
A police officer told AFP an ambulance had been completely charred in one of the blasts .
“ People here insist on continuing to make fireworks . It ’ s their tradition . But they don’ t gage the consequences of these tragedies . It’ s infuriating , because our firefighter colleagues … end up dead saving these people , ” he said , speaking on condition of anonymity .
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto sent his condolences to the victims ’ families on Twitter and said the army and interior ministry were supporting the state rescue effort .
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