33 killed by firecracker blaze in India

Sunday, October 18, 2009

At least 33 people in the Tamil Nadu state of India were killed on Friday after an explosion set fire to a firecracker warehouse, police said.

The blaze started in the town of Pallipatu, located about forty kilometres from the state capital of Chennai.

"We have recovered 33 charred bodies," a senior police official, C. Durairaj, said to the Agence France-Presse news agency.

He said that six more people had been hurt and were hospitalised. Many of the victims were people purchasing firecrackers ahead of the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali.

The fire began at a rice mill that had been temporarily converted into a warehouse for firecrackers. "The explosion was triggered by a firecracker which burst in the congested warehouse and people did not have time to escape," Durairaj said.

Fires are frequent in India in factories and warehouses storing firecrackers, due in part to relaxed safety standards. No less than seventeen people were killed at another fireworks factory in Tamil Nadu earlier in 2009. In 2007, 32 people were killed by a fire in the state of Bihar.