Asia-Pacific

At least 23 dead after India firecracker factory explosion

Dozens of people have died after an explosion at a firecracker factory in India.

At least 23 people have been killed after a massive explosion at a firecracker factory in northern India.

More are feared trapped in the rubble and teams of police and India's National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force were pressed into service to extricate them.

Nearby cars and buildings were damaged in the blast that occurred at the plant in the city of Batala.

The factory is in a bustling neighbourhood and authorities fear the death toll could rise further.

The injured are being treated in various hospitals in the district.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel get ready to engage in rescue work
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel get ready to engage in rescue work
EPA

It was not known how many people were inside the factory when the explosion occurred.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tweeted that he was "deeply anguished to learn of the loss of lives".

It was not clear if the factory in the northern state of Punjab was a legal facility or one of the many illegal fireworks factories dotted across the country with lax safety standards.

Explosions are common in illegal firecracker workshops, particularly during the Hindu autumn festival of Diwali- which usually falls between October to November and creates large demand for fireworks.

Many of these factories do not adhere to basic safety requirements and operate without permits.

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