Officials say that the casualty rate in Wednesday’s blast at a fireworks factory in Batala area of the northern Indian state of Punjab has increased to 16 with many more feared trapped in the building.
Initial assessments had put the number of the deceased at 14.
But according to a local administration official, Deepak Bhatia, 16 bodies had so far been taken to the hospital along with 14 others injured.
Bhatia said, “The rescue work is ongoing; the numbers of casualties could rise. It is not clear yet what caused the fire but the building was completely gutted.“
Local news channels quoted witnesses as saying that fire erupted from the factory following an explosion.
The factory blast occurred some weeks before Diwali, a Hindu festival that is celebrated by the lighting of millions of firecrackers.
Investigators are said to be looking to see whether the factory had legal permits as illegal firecracker factories that operate without proper licences and do not follow safety regulations are a common sight in India.