Firefighters and rescue personnel stand near a destroyed house after an explosion at the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, Mexico (December 20, 2016)
VON PRESS Americas: Television images showed a flurry of pyrotechnics exploding into the early afternoon sky as a giant plume of smoke rose above the market. Fireworks detonated in a peal of clattering bursts reminiscent of a war zone.
It was the third time in just over a decade that explosions have hit the popular San Pablito marketplace in Tultepec, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Mexico City. The detonations struck in the run-up to the busy Christmas holiday, when many Mexicans stock up on fireworks.
Some 13 children suffered burns to more than 90 percent of their bodies and were being sent to the U.S. city of Galveston in Texas for treatment, said Eruviel Avila, the governor of the State of Mexico in which Tultepec is located.
He put the death toll at 29, saying that 26 died at the scene of the explosions and another three died later in local hospitals.
Avila also vowed to find and punish those responsible and to provide economic assistance to those who had lost their livelihoods.
The federal attorney general's office also opened an investigation, saying in a statement that six separate blasts caused the destruction.
Isidro Sanchez, the head of Tultepec emergency services, said earlier that a lack of safety measures was the likely cause of the blasts.
The federal police said a forensic team had been sent to investigate and that at least 70 people had been injured. Videos from the scene showed people frantically fleeing, while aerial footage revealed blackened stalls and a flattened tangle of metal and wood.
More than 80 percent of the 300 stalls at the market were destroyed by the explosions, said state official Jose Manzur.
He said the market was inspected by safety officials last month and no irregularities were found.
Mexican media reported there were 300 tonnes of fireworks at the market at the time of the explosions.
The head of a local pyrotechnics association told online publication Animal Politico last week that the fireworks market was the safest in Latin America, featuring "perfectly designed stalls" that could prevent any chain reaction in the event of a spark.
The blasts were the latest in a long-running series of fatal explosions and industrial accidents that have rocked Mexico's oil, gas and petrochemical industries.
A blast struck the Tultepec fireworks market in September 2005 just before Independence Day celebrations, injuring many people. Another detonation gutted the area again almost a year later.