Hyderabad: At least five workers, mostly women, were killed and nine others injured in an explosion and subsequent blaze at a firecracker manufacturing unit in a village of Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam district on Sunday, police said.
The incident occurred this evening at Gokulpadu village in Visakhapatnam district between 4:30 pm and 5 pm under S Rayavaram police station limits, district Superintendent of Police, K Pravin said.
"Five bodies were recovered from the spot. Nine others were injured, of which condition of four persons is critical," the SP told PTI over phone.
Most of the deceased are women working at the unit, he said.
The blaze soon spread to the adjoining areas, but fire engines were pressed into service which brought it under control, he said.
The exact reason behind the explosion and the subsequent fire was yet to be ascertained, though district fire officer is probing into the reasons, the officer said.
The injured were rushed to a nearby hospital.
Narasipatnam DSP, Yesu Babu, who rushed to the spot and was monitoring relief and rescue operation, said four bodies were charred.
"There was a sudden explosion at the unit and the workers died due to the impact of the blast and burn wounds," he said.
The deceased were identified by police as N Satyavathi (28), L Seshamma (40), S Ramana (27), S Lakshmi (50) and M Sattibabu (45), all hailing from Visakhapatnam district.
Home Minister N China Rajappa expressed grief at the loss of lives and sought a report from the SP on the incident.
Meanwhile, the state Government has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased, an official release said in Hyderabad.
The blast was so powerful that it could be heard 3 kms away. The structure housing the unit, Rohit Fire Works, was blown away and body parts were found strewn around, eyewitnesses said.
At the time of the explosion, five people were inside the unit, while 10 were in premises outside. The owner of the unit, Nooka Raju, is missing, police said.
Hearing the blast, the villagers rushed to the cracker unit and pulled out the injured, who were shifted to Seven Hills Hospital in Visakhapatnam after being given primary treatment at a local medical facility, Praveen said.
Locals said Nooka Raju had got a lot of orders from marriage parties to supply firecrackers and so he had employed more workers than the usual five to meet the demand. Also, there was a huge stock of raw material in the unit.