HYDERABAD, India (AP) - A fire erupted in a warehouse full of
firecrackers early Wednesday, killing 13 people, most of them
sleeping in a small inn next door in a crowded section of the
southern city of Hyderabad, officials said.
Four people also suffered critical burns when the fire broke out
at about 4 a.m. Most of the victims could not be immediately
identified because they were travelers staying at the small lodge.
A short circuit probably sparked the fire, said Andhra Pradesh
state Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.
Police said the warehouse was full of firecrackers in apparent
preparation for next month's Diwali, a Hindu festival of light.
The chief minister visited the scene and said a reward would be
given to neighbors who tried to save victims and who helped put out
the fire, preventing it from spreading to other buildings in the
Begum Bazar, a congested commercial area in the heart of the Andhra
Pradesh state capital.
The warehouse belonged to Shanti Fire Works, one of the city's
leading fireworks makers, but police said they were investigating
whether the company had a permit to keep such a large stock of
firecrackers in the busy area.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)