Palakkad (Kerala): Five persons were charred to death and seven suffered serious burns when a cracker manufacturing unit caught fire and exploded at Panniankurissi in the district on Saturday.

All the victims were workers of the fire unit. The injured have been admitted to different hosptials and their condition was stated to be serious.

The deceased were engaged by the licenced craker unit for making fireworks for temple festivals in the summer months in the area.

The bodies were taken out of the debris by police and fire force with the help of local people, who, said they heard a big sound when the thactched shed went up on flames. Two of the deceased had been identified, police said.