The city of Tultepec is located roughly 25 miles north of Mexico City, a sought after destination for its bustling fireworks market. Yesterday, as holiday shoppers went to stock up on fireworks to celebrate Christmas and New Year's, a series of explosions tore through the crowded marketplace, setting off successive blasts. Eye witnesses reported the force of explosions shook the ground for miles, and several videos captured the blasts in real time, As news of the disaster hit social media, countless people worldwide used the Twitter hashtag #PrayForMexico to express their sympathy for victims and their friends and families.
This was not the first time tragedy struck Tultepec. The Wall Street Journal reports that the same fireworks marketplace has been wiped out three times in the past 11 years, all caused by similar accidents. As a result, new safety regulations had been implemented in Tultepec, in the hopes of avoiding future explosions and fires. Tragically, those changes were insufficient to prevent yesterday's catastrophe, with 29 people reported dead, and over 70 injured. The tweets below capture the sense of loss and fear in the wake of this fatal accident.
Civilian recordings captured the explosions in real time. This relatively new way of seeing the news, through the unfiltered lens of bystanders with smart phones, adds a stark and haunting gut punch of reality to the devastation.
Residents and former natives of Tultepec specifically, and Mexico in general, were understandably among the most prolific #PrayForMexico users.
Many Twitter users expressed outrage at the politicization of the Tultepec tragedy. Apparently, there were supporters of President-elect Donald Trump allegedly using Twitter to celebrate the explosions. The #PrayForMexico crowd pushed back hard against such cruelty.
Other tweets recognized the sad news across multiple international headlines.
Most #PrayForMexico tweets were simple statements of shock and sadness, and seemed to express a desire to let those affected know they were neither ignored nor forgotten.
After yesterday's tragedy, it is reasonable to expect the government of Mexico to investigate not only the causes of the Tultepec explosions, but also realistic solutions to ensure this kind of domino effect cannot happen again. In the meantime, tweeters will likely continue to use #PrayForMexico as a means of communicating their grief and horror, as well as solidarity, with the people of Mexico.