Five die in new fireworks blast

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The Independent Online

Five people were killed and eight were injured in an explosion at a fireworks factory in Spain yesterday.

Five people were killed and eight were injured in an explosion at a fireworks factory in Spain yesterday.

The explosion at Rafelcofer, about 40 miles south of Valencia in south-eastern Spain, came just two days after an estimated 20 people died in a blast at a fireworks factory in Enschede in the Netherlands.

Yesterday's explosion set off a small forest fire outside the town. One worker was still missing last night and five people were confirmed dead. Of the injured, three were seriously hurt. One of the victims was flown to Valencia for specialist burns treatment.

Witnesses said the explosion at the factory was felt two miles away in the town centre. It was much stronger than a blast six years ago at the plant which killed one worker, they said. "There's no comparison with this one. There was nothing left this time," a local man told Spanish state television. Firefighters and waterdumping helicopters put out blazes in scrub vegetation on a hillside near the factory to bring the fire under control.

Meanwhile the people of Enschede were beginning to return to their damaged homes yesterday after an explosion at a fireworks storage site devastated an entire neighbourhood, killed an estimated 20 people and injured more than 600.

Members of the Disaster Victim Identification Team, wearing white jump-suits and safety masks, worked through the mountains of ruins in search of clothing fragments, jewellery and any other signs of life. Officials said it was unlikely that any more survivors would be found.

An investigation into the explosion is under way amid accusations that it was caused by an arsonist and questions about why the fireworks storage site was sited in the middle of a residential neighbourhood.

In a third incident, one person died yesterday in an explosion in a fireworks warehouse which contained gunpowder in Tepic, west Mexico. Three people were reported injured.

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