Page last updated at 10:03 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 11:03 UK

India fireworks blast 'kills 26'

Deeg map

At least 26 people have died after a huge explosion at an illegal fireworks factory in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, police say.

The dead include eight children. The blast in Deeg town near Jaipur early on Thursday left some 20 others injured.

The blast was so powerful that it destroyed the factory in a slum and brought down two neighbouring homes.

Fireworks factories in India are most at risk of accidental explosions around this time of the year.

Indians are celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, next week and fireworks manufacturers step up production to meet growing demand.

Correspondents say many illegal facilities making and storing fireworks come into operation during this time.

Senior police official Rohit Mahajan said rescue work was going on to determine whether there were more casualties.

In 2005, at least 35 people died in a huge explosion at a fireworks store in northern Bihar state.

In the same year, at least seven people from the same family were killed in a firecracker blast in the western state of Gujarat.

And in 2002, at least 23 people were killed in separate incidents in southern India caused by fireworks explosions.

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