ROME, Italy (AFP) — Five people died Wednesday as a result of two explosions at a fireworks factory in Sicily, firefighters and police said after the incident at the family-run firm.
The late afternoon blasts immediately killed two workmen and the 71-year-old wife of the owner of the Costa company in Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, in Sicily’s Messina region.
The owner’s son had attempted to save her and was one of four people taken to hospital with serious injuries, police said.
One of the injured later died in hospital.
“According to the initial evidence, it seems that there were two explosions,” police commander Giancarmine Carusone said.
He added that it was believed sparks from welding equipment had triggered the blasts.
A worker who had been reported missing was later discovered dead in the rubble.
One employee who was inside the depot at the time of the explosion was pulled out alive. Firefighters were continuing to search for further victims.
The local prosecutor’s office opened an inquiry into the disaster.
Staff was preparing for New Year celebrations comprising traditional firework displays across the south of Italy designed to chase away evil spirits.
Preparations for such displays, a tradition dating back to the 1500s, annually see a number of fatal incidents.
© Agence France-Presse