World / Asia-Pacific

Death toll rises to 17 in India fireworks plant blast

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-10-21 15:02

MUMBAI - The death toll in fire at a fireworks factory in southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh rose to 17, after five more deaths were reported here on Tuesday.

The police said two more women are missing since the fire, which started after an explosion so big that many workers were thrown off to nearby fields.

There were 30 people at work when the fire began, said officials in Kakinada, 160 km from the port city of Visakhapatnam. It took nearly two hours to put out the flames as a lot of inflammable material was feeding the fire.

The fire, which triggered several explosions, destroyed the building. Two fire engines battled for two hours to douse the flames.

All the victims were workers in the unit, which was manufacturing firecrackers for the coming Diwali festival.

A burning cigarette is suspected to have led to the fire.

The government has ordered an investigation into whether fire safety precautions had been ignored by the factory's owner.

The factory has been operating every year during the festival season for the last 10 years and reportedly had a licence.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has announced compensation of 200,000 Indian rupees for the families of those who died.

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