Hyderabad: The death toll in fire at a cracker factory in Andhra Pradesh rose to 17, after six more persons succumbed to burns at a hospital in Kakinada town on Tuesday.
The dead comprise 14 women and three men, East Godavari SP M Ravi Prakash told a news agency, a day after a blast rocked the firecrackers unit in a building in coastal East Godavari district's Vakatippa village.
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.
Initially, the police had said that there were 18 workers working in the unit at the time of explosion. Later, Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister N Chinnarajappa said that 30 persons were present at the site when the explosion occurred.
The manufacturing unit where the explosion occurred had applied for renewal of its license, he said.
The explosion had left nine workers dead on the spot while two others died yesterday while undergoing treatment at a hospital.
As per preliminary reports, the explosion was a result of a chemical reaction during the cracker manufacturing process. Some reports said a burning cigarette led to the fire.
Expressing his shock over the incident, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had yesterday announced Rs 2 lakh compensations to the families of each of those killed. He directed officials to provide all medical help to the injured.
Naidu told reporters in Hyderabad that the East Godavari district collector will conduct an inquiry. He said if the manufacturing unit was found to be functioning illegally, strict action will be taken against its owner.
Chinnarajappa and senior officials visited the scene and supervised rescue and relief operations.
YSR Congress party chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy also expressed shock and grief over the incident.
Meanwhile, police in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts of Telangana conducted raids on firecrackers shops opened in violation of rules.
Over 40 cases were booked against shop owners for opening their outlets without permission. Police seized firecrackers worth Rs 30 lakh.
(With Agency inputs)