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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Fireworks blasts in India
Rescuers remove bodies from the scene in Hyderabad
Police have charged the owner of the warehouse
At least 23 people have been killed in separate incidents in southern India caused by fireworks explosions.

At least 13 people were killed in an explosion at a warehouse in the city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh state early on Wednesday morning.

Most of the victims were staying in a hotel on the top floor of the building housing the warehouse, which is located in a busy commercial area in the heart of the city.

In another incident in Tamil Nadu state in Viluppuram district, a huge explosion at a fireworks factory killed 10 workers and injured eight others, four of them critically.

Hyderabad blast

Police in Hyderabad say the blast at the Shanti Fireworks Warehouse was caused by an electrical short circuit.

Scene in Hyderabad
Most victims were on the top floor
"We were jolted out of our sleep by loud explosion-like sounds. The electricity was off and it was completely dark," one survivor told the AFP news agency.

"If the local people had not helped us out we would have surely died."

Police have now arrested the owner of the warehouse and charged him with culpable homicide. They say the building may have been overstocked.

Correspondents say small fireworks factories, often cramped and poorly managed, are most at risk of accidental explosions around this time of the year.

Next month, Indians celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, and fireworks manufacturers step up production to meet growing demand.

See also:

25 Oct 00 | South Asia
08 Nov 99 | South Asia
24 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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