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A truck carrying mining explosives blew up after colliding with another vehicle in northern Mexico, killing at least 34 people, including three reporters at the scene, state and federal officials said.
Authorities said the two vehicles crashed into each other Sunday evening on a busy highway, drawing a crowd of curious onlookers as well as a small army of police, soldiers, emergency officials and journalists.
Shortly after the crowd arrived, the wreckage caught fire, and the dynamite exploded, sending a ball of fire into the sky that consumed nearby cars and left a 3-by-15-meter crater in the concrete, said Maximo Alberto Neri Lopez, a federal police official.
He initially reported 37 dead, but lowered that number after a more thorough count found that some bodies, difficult to identify, were counted twice. He also said more than 150 people were injured.
The force of the explosion blew out the windows of a passenger bus half a kilometer away.
The dead included three newspaper reporters from the nearby city of Monclova, said Luis Horacio de Hoyos of the Coahuila state Attorney General's Office.
It was unclear if the explosive truck's driver was among those dead. Early reports said he might have fled the scene.
President Felipe Calderon said the federal government would work with local authorities in the tragedy's aftermath.
"I want to send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this horrible accident," he said in New Delhi, India, where he was attending the inauguration of a museum exposition.
Coahuila state has a large mining industry, most of it in coal.