At least eight workers were killed yesterday in a huge explosion set off by a blaze at a fireworks factory in Tamil Nadu, police said.
Among the dead are six women.
Another 20 people were wounded in the blast in the town of Sivakasi, which came days before the festival of Diwali, which many celebrate by letting off fireworks.
“Eight workers were killed and 15 were injured. Some of them have critical burn injuries,” local police inspector Vijaya Lakshmi said.
Emergency workers evacuated patients from a nearby hospital fearing the fire could spread.
“The accident occurred around 2pm when the firecrackers were being loaded on a truck and one of the bundles caught fire, leading to multiple explosions,” Sivakasi East police station chief R Perumal said.
“Unfortunately, most of the victims were from a medical scanning centre next to the crackers shop in the town’s congested locality. Crackers in the shop and the truck exploded when a spark lit one of the bundles and its fire spread quickly around the spot,” said Perumal.
When crackers in the shop and the truck exploded, emitting huge smoke and loud noise, the truck’s diesel tank too caught fire and burnt the vehicle down.
“We have registered a case against the agency’s owner and its employees for the explosions and causing death and destruction of public property,” added Perumal.
Sivakasi is home to some 700 small factories producing fireworks that are running at peak production ahead of Diwali.
The town in Virudhunagar district, about 540km from Chennai is the largest manufacturing centre of fireworks and matches in the country.
More than 35 people were killed in 2012 after one of the factories in the town caught fire leading to a massive explosion.
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