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Thu 23 Oct 2008 01:56 PM

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23 killed in blast at illegal fireworks factory

Ten children are among dead after explosion in northern India, police say.

An explosion at an illegal fireworks factory in northern India killed at least 23 people, 10 of them children, police said on Thursday.

"There was a house in which fireworks were being made illegally," said police official Rohit Mahajan. "An explosion went off in one man's house and it collapsed."

Five other houses also collapsed and 18 people were injured in the explosion late Wednesday, he said.

The explosion occurred in the village of Deeg in Rajasthan state, around 160 kilometres (100 miles) from the Indian capital.

"Rescue operations are on and we fear more recovery of bodies from the debris," Deeg police officer Prem Shankar Meena added.

Rajasthan's home secretary S.N. Thanvi said an inquiry had been ordered.

Many families produce fireworks in their homes in hazardous conditions ahead of Diwali -- the festival of lights that will be celebrated on Tuesday.

A national ban on engaging children in hazardous sectors such as the fireworks industry is largely ignored in India.

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