Palakkad, Kerala (Agency): Eight persons died and many others injured in an explosion in a fire cracker unit near Shornur town in Palakkad district this afternoon, police said. About 30 persons were working in three sheds where explosive materials for making crackers were kept when the accident took place. The bodies recovered from the site were charred and splintered into pieces.

The unit was located in an open space close to Shornur-Palakkad railway track. Though a train had passed through the spot when the blast occurred, railway sources said the mishap did not harm any passengers.

Local people said they heard deafening sounds and felt mild rattling."We initially thought it was an earthquake, as the area has sometimes experienced mild tremors", said a local farm worker.

Fire Force, police and local people are still engaged in rescue work and taking out people from the sheds. Seriously injured were rushed to the Thrissur Medical College Hospital.

As the temple festival season is round the corner, the unit had engaged about 30 workers since the last few weeks, local people said. The unit was owned by a leading supplier of crackers for festivals in the area.

District administration sources said they ascertaining if the unit had proper licenses.