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54 killed in major fire at fireworks factory in S. India

(Xinhua)

15:23, September 06, 2012

Photo taken on Sept. 5, 2012 shows the scene of a fireworks factory after massive fire in Sivakasi district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. At least 25 people were killed and 40 others seriously injured after an explosion in a fireworks factory in Sivakasi district. (Xinhua/Stringer)

NEW DELHI, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- At least 54 people are now confirmed dead in a devastating fire that engulfed a fireworks factory in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu Wednesday, a senior police official said Thursday.

"Over 70 others with severe burn injuries are battling for their lives at a local hospital in the state's Sivakasi district. The death toll is likely to go up," he said, unwilling to be named.

The fire broke out at Om Siva Shakti Fireworks factory at 12.30 p.m. (local time) Wednesday and it took more than 15 fire tenders some five years to bring the fire under control. The devastating inferno destroyed the factory completely, gutting 40 of its rooms when 300 people were present inside.

Local TV channels reported that while a majority died of burn injuries and suffocation, others succumbed to their deaths on way to hospitals as it showed footage of the fire throughout the day.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condemned the deaths and announced a compensation of Rs two lakhs (4,000 U.S. dollars) each for the families of those killed and Rs 50,000 lakhs (1,000 U.S. dollars) for those seriously injured in the fire.

Sivakasi is India's largest fireworks hub.

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