This remote mountain hamlet in central Mexico gave an emotional farewell Wednesday to the victims of a fireworks explosion that killed 14 people, including 12 youth between the ages of 4 and 18.
Residents of San Isidro wept beneath a tent where child-size coffins lay covered in flowers and crosses. In the kitchen of one cinderblock home, people paid their respects to a 6-year-old boy whose body was shrouded in white fabric.
The blast Monday night was caused by an errant firecracker that landed on a cache of fireworks being stored in a home for an upcoming religious celebration.
Adriano Serrano Rosas, the owner of the house that was leveled, said he lost three children and two grandchildren, all of them between 4 and 18 years old.
Serrano, whose head and hand were bandaged from injuries he suffered, said that when the roar of the explosion quieted and the debris stopped falling, he turned and saw his 14-year-old son, Ambrosio, on the ground bleeding from the head.
“I said, ‘My son, you went before I did,’ and I sat here holding him,” Serrano said.
Many of the village’s 400 or so residents turned out for the wake. Some cleaned chickens to be cooked on an outdoor barbecue.
Fireworks are a mainstay of holiday celebrations in Mexico, and accidental blasts are relatively common occurrences often with fatal consequences.
On Dec. 20, several dozen people were killed when a particularly large chain-reaction explosion ripped through a fireworks market in Tultepec, on the northern outskirts of Mexico City, as it bustled with shoppers stocking up for the year-end holidays.
There have been at least two other deadly pyrotechnic blasts in the country since then, including one at a home in Tultepec and another at a fireworks workshop in the central state of Tlaxcala, which borders Puebla.
Text from the AP news story, Mexico village bids farewell to 14 killed by fireworks blast, by Enric Marti.
Photos by Enric Marti and Rebecca Blackwell