Town known for fireworks disasters mourns deaths

TULTEPEC, Mexico (AP) — Grieving emergency personnel in the Mexico City suburb of Tultepec carried the caskets of four comrades through the town’s streets Friday as authorities investigated whether an attempt to douse burning fireworks with water may have triggered further blasts that killed a total of 24 people.

The four were among seven firefighters, police officers and civil defense workers killed when they rushed to the scene of a first blast, only to be felled by three subsequent explosions. Fifty-four people were injured, 41 of whom remain hospitalized.

The town of Tultepec, just north of the capital in Mexico State, is a place notorious for deadly fireworks accidents, with at least 70 people killed there in less than two years.

State of Mexico Gov. Alfredo del Mazo said authorities would mount a special campaign to punish clandestine workshops, train workers and improve their workspaces. But such promises have been heard before.

And a state official told local media that investigators are looking at whether first responders may have contributed to the second wave of blasts by trying to extinguish the initial blaze with water, which reacts with some chemicals used in fireworks.

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