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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
India factory blast 'kills 25'
At least 25 people have been killed in an explosion at a government-run dynamite factory in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, officials say.

Another three people are said to have been seriously injured in the blast, at Katpadi, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) south-west of the state capital, Madras.

Authorities say there were 30 people inside the factory at the time of the explosion, which happened at about 0800 local time (0230 GMT).

Police say the number killed could rise further.

A local official in Vellore district, B Mohandas, told Associated Press news agency: "We have so far recovered four bodies from the blast site."

'Accidental ignition'

Officials say the factory produced nitrate explosives and detonators used in mining and quarrying.

The force of the blast is said to have destroyed a holding unit and blown the roof off the factory.

The BBC's Jill McGivering in Delhi says according to people close to the site of the explosion the factory is still ablaze.

But Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalith Jayaram has said the fire is under control.

The chief minister's office said the explosion was caused by an "accidental ignition".

Two government ministers have been sent to the site to lead an investigation into the cause of the blast.

The chief minister has said the families of the victims and those injured will be eligible for compensation from the government's relief fund.

The BBC's Jill McGivering
"The chief minister has announced a compensation package for the families of the victims and the injured"
See also:

30 Apr 01 | South Asia
Huge blaze at Indian arms depot
02 May 00 | South Asia
Huge loss in arms depot fire
02 May 00 | South Asia
Inquiry into huge depot blaze
15 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: India
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