'I thought I was going to die': Witnesses recall Mexican fireworks explosion

TULTEPEC, Mexico (NBC) -- The death toll of the massive explosion at Mexico's best-known fireworks market climbed to 32 on Wednesday as authorities worked to identify the dead and treat the dozens injured in the stunning incident.

Of the dead, 26 victims were found at the scene and six died at area hospitals, Mexico state official Jose Manzur said at a press conference Wednesday. Eighteen victims have not yet been identified, Manzur said.

The explosion occurred at the open-air San Pablito market in Tultepec, in the State of Mexico. Officials said Wednesday that 59 people were wounded during the blasts with 46 still hospitalized.

At the press conference officials mentioned one hospitalized young girl by name, 13-year-old "Pamela," who they said had burns over 90 percent of her body. Authorities were hoping to get her to the United States for treatment, but the the girl was not yet stable enough for transfer.

Officials added that five of the injured were still in grave condition.

Twelve-year-old witness Yahir David Sanchez Ortega said he was outside and going to buy something when the first stand began to explode and "all the bricks from the fireworks market started flying."

Ortega said he saw people "running with blood on their heads" and screaming for help.

"Everything was exploding until you went deaf, where you couldn't hear all the noise," he said.

"I felt like the roof was going to cave and crush my head."

"I thought I was going to die," he said.

Video of the blast showed an arsenal of fireworks exploding at the market and a massive plume of smoke enveloping the area, just outside of Mexico City. Officials have not yet given a cause for the explosions.

Witness Juan Carlos Saldaña told NBC News on Wednesday he was still waiting for news on three of his family members who have been missing since the explosions.

"We feel devastated, with hope of still finding them," he said.

Saldaña said he and his family have not been able to rest as they wait to hear word on their loved ones. In addition to his three missing relatives, two of his relatives are hospitalized, he said.

"We've been here since the incident began, until now," he said. "We haven't been able to rest."

Saldaña described running to try to help people who were inside the market as the explosions began.

"I went in to look for my family," he said.

Mexico has a history of fireworks explosions in market areas, including two prior explosions in Teltepec. In one Dec. 12, 1988 incident, at least 62 people were killed in the La Merced market in Mexico City.



 
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