An explosion at a fireworks factory in central India on Wednesday killed 20 workers and injured 10 others, some with serious burns, an official said.
Dozens of employees managed to escape unhurt but firefighters spent two hours bringing the major blaze under control in Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh state.
“A total of 20 charred bodies have been pulled out of the factory,” local administrative chief Bharat Yadav told journalists from the accident site.
“The rescue operation is over now, we have cleared the place and thankfully no one is trapped inside,” he added.
Yadav said it was unclear what caused the blast, but suspected a worker may have callously tossed a burning beedi (a local type of cigarette) inside.
“What exactly triggered the fire is not yet known. It is possible that someone might have thrown a burning beedi,” he told the Press Trust of India.
Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan offered his condolences on Twitter, announcing compensation of 200,000 rupees ($3,105) each for the families of the dead.
Workplace accidents are common in India, where poor safety standards and lax enforcement of regulations have led to horrific deaths.
Thirteen people were killed in April in a massive fire at a government-run fuel and grain depot in Madhya Pradesh. Later that month, five factory workers were burned to death in Jaipur after tons of molten rubber leaked at a tyre unit.
In February six workers were burnt alive at an air conditioning manufacturing plant in the southern city of Hyderabad.