30 dead as flames engulf firecracker factory (Lead)

September 5th, 2012 - 5:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Sep 5 (IANS) At least 30 people were killed and more than 45 injured Wednesday when an explosion tore through a fireworks factory in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, triggering a major fire, police said.

A police official in Virudhunagar district told IANS on telephone that the accident happened around 12.30 p.m. in one of the biggest factories in the area.

He said nearly 40 of the 48 sheds in the sprawling warehouse had been destroyed in the blaze.

He said nearly 50 injured people had been taken to hospitals. A medical team was treating those who suffered minor burn injuries.

Thirteen fire tenders battled the flames while more than 25 ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals.

The police officer said thick smoke in the factory area hindered rescue efforts.

According to police, the fire from one of the sheds quickly spread to the rest of the factory, thanks to a huge stock of firecrackers being readied for the upcoming festival season.

Hours after the tragedy, a local official told journalists that around 100 people were still trapped in the factory premises.

Tamil television channels showed intermittent explosions in the area, and a thick smoke rising to the sky.

Villagers were seen carrying away the injured in their arms or in large clothes in the absence of stretchers.

Police said the exact numbers inside the factory was not known. Normally, 300 workers work in a firecracker factory.

Sivakasi is one of the oldest and biggest firecracker manufacturing hubs in India.

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