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Fire blazes thru fireworks factory in southern India

NEW DELHI -- A massive blaze swept through a fireworks factory in southern India on Wednesday, killing at least 20 workers and injuring 30 others, police said.

The fire spread to 40 of the 60 rooms at the factory, one of the biggest in Sivakasi town in Tamil Nadu state, police officer P. Karupaiah said.

Witnesses said flames were billowing out of the Om Siva Shakti fireworks factory, where large amounts of firecrackers and raw materials were stored.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, Karupaiah said.

Sivakasi is about 650 kilometers (400 miles) southwest of Chennai, the state capital.

The region has many factories making fireworks, which are used in religious festivals and weddings across India. They also are exported to other Asian countries. Some illegal fireworks factories operate in homes.

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