Five dead in Sicily firework factory explosions

The two explosions happened as staff prepared for New Year celebrations.

Five dead in Sicily firework factory explosions
Firefighters at the scene after the explosion in Sicily. Photo: Vigili del Fuoco

Five people were killed on Wednesday as a result of two explosions at a fireworks factory in Sicily, firefighters and police said.

The late afternoon blasts at the family-run firm 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 those injured later died in hospital.

“According to the initial evidence, it seems that there were two explosions,” police commander Giancarmine Carusone said.

Photos and video shared by the fire brigade showed the aftermath of the exposion late on Wednesday afternoon.

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 were 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, see a number of fatal incidents every year.

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