Wednesday, December 6, 2023

2 years after explosion that killed 42, fireworks market reopens

Two years after an explosion that killed 42 people, the San Pablito fireworks market in México state has reopened.

Between Thursday night and Friday morning, the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) approved applications for operating permits from 168 stallholders at the market, located about 40 kilometers north of Mexico City in the municipality of Tultepec.

A further 89 stallholders are still waiting for permits to be granted.

All licenses held by vendors who worked at the market were suspended after the December 20, 2016 explosion that in addition to claiming the lives of 42, left more than 60 people injured and completely destroyed the market.

Tultepec Mayor Armando Cervantes Punzo said the new permits allow up to 25 kilograms of fireworks to be stored in each of the 300 new stalls.

“It’s a great release of pressure that the permit suspensions have been lifted . . . [The new market] is a regulated sales space that complies with all the applicable regulations,” he said.

San Pablito, after and before the 2016 explosion.
San Pablito, after and before the 2016 explosion.

Cervantes told the newspaper El Sol de México that the market met all the relevant safety requirements in October but the granting of the new permits was delayed by bureaucracy that was further complicated by the change of federal government.

He said the new market was built in accordance with state government and Sedena safety guidelines, adding that vendors now have no excuse for selling fireworks illegally.

Market manager Germán Galicia Cortez said the market was built using a special explosion-resistant cement produced by Mexican cement company Cemex.

The México state government contributed 35 million pesos (US $1.8 million) for the construction of 150 stores within the market while the Tultepec municipal government chipped in seven million pesos (US $356,000) towards building the remaining 150.

Around 10,000 people in Tultepec depend on the fireworks industry for their livelihoods.

Fatal explosions are common in Mexico’s self-declared fireworks capital, with many incidents occurring in workshops that operate without Sedena approval.

Nation-wide there have been at least 172 explosions in fireworks workshops in the last six years, causing 241 deaths and leaving 894 people injured.

The state of México topped the list with 63 accidents and 144 victims but fireworks explosions occurred in 20 of the 32 states.

Source: El Universal (sp), El Sol de México (sp) 

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