At least 40 people have been killed and 60 others injured in a massive blaze that ripped through a fireworks factory in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, police say. The fire, which also triggered off several huge explosions, took place at the Om Siva Shakti fireworks factory in the town of Sivakasi on Wednesday, the Associated Press quoted police officer P. Karupaiah as saying. The cause of the blaze, which burnt the factory to rubble, was not immediately known.
However, the Press Trust of India news agency put the death toll at 52, and said that about 300 people were inside the factory when the blaze began. Most of the victims were local villagers.Almost a dozen fire trucks struggled for more than five hours to extinguish the fire that had become a raging inferno. The factory’s license had been suspended for safety breaches a day before the incident, said Najmul Hoda, a police superintendent in the region. The town is home to hundreds of factories, which make 90 percent of the country’s fireworks for both domestic use and export. MHB/AS