14 women and three men have died in the fire that broke out at a firecracker factory in Andhra Pradesh on Monday, three days before the Diwali festival. Six people died of severe burn injuries in hospital this morning.
The police say two more women are missing since the fire, which started after an explosion so big that many workers were thrown off to nearby fields.
There were 30 people at work when the fire began, said officials in Kakinada, 160 kms from the port city of Visakhapatnam. It took nearly two hours to put out the flames as a lot of inflammable material was feeding the fire.
"We were working inside, when it happened so suddenly. We were thrown a huge distance,'' said a man who survived with minor injuries.
The government has ordered an investigation into whether fire safety precautions had been ignored by the factory's owner.
The factory has been operating every year during the festival season for the last 10 years and reportedly had a licence.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has announced compensation of Rs. 2 lakh for the families of those who died.