Three persons were killed and 19 others, including a one-and-half-year-old child, sustained injuries in an explosion at a fireworks unit at Kitchanayakanpatti in Maraneri police station limits here on Wednesday.

The explosion took place at Meenakshi Fireworks Unit at 9.15 a.m. The workers were engaged in mixing chemicals for preparing crackers when the accident happened.

G. Mariappan (65) of Ramarajar Colony, Vilampatti, and Chella Karuppayee of Chinna Pottalpatti were killed on the spot. Their bodies were charred beyond recognition. S. Paramasivam (55) of Thulukkapatti died a few hours after he was admitted to Government Hospital here.

M. Chinnapandi (44) of Thirumangalam, M. Ravichandran (45) of Periyapottalpatti, K. Karthi (28) of Kamarajar Colony, S. Raja (45) of Orampatti, M. Pandiarajan (25), P. Perumal (29), M. Nagaraj (51), S. Mareeswaran (14), M. Muneeswaran (24) and A.Arunpandi (13) (all the last six from Kamajarar Colony) sustained injuries. One-half-year-old T. Manoj Kumar also sustained burn injuries. Mareeswaran sustained 90 per cent burns.

Annalakshmi (40) of Orampatti, Shanmugathai alias Samuthiram (42), T. Pandiammal (26) alias Pandeeswari and Muthammal of Chinnapottalpatti, T. Kaliammal of Soornaickenpatti, Muniammal (35) and Pondysheela of Periyapottalpatti and Veluthai of Kamarajar Colony also sustained burns.

Two two-wheelers were completely destroyed. A van and half a dozen two-wheelers suffered extensive damage. The roof of the building was ripped apart.

Fire tenders took four hours to put out the blaze.

K. Ponnusamy, Deputy Director of Fire Services, Madurai, southern region, District Fire Officer C. Manohar supervised the rescue operations.

The officials described it as a major fire.