Image: A firefighter trains his hose inside a building filled with unexploded firecrackers
Jes Aznar  /  AFP - Getty Images
A firefighter trains his hose inside a building filled with unexploded firecrackers south of Manila on Thursday.
updated 1/29/2009 5:50:35 AM ET 2009-01-29T10:50:35

A powerful explosion obliterated a fireworks factory south of Manila on Thursday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 30 others, officials said.

Witnesses said the blast gouged out a crater big enough to fit a school bus.

The mutilated bodies of two men and a woman were recovered outside the compound of the Starmaker fireworks factory near a residential area in Trece Martires city in Cavite province, police chief Reynaldo Galang told DZMM radio.

Three other people also died, a police spokesman said.

More than 30 people were injured and brought to hospitals, Cavite Gov. Erineo Maliksi said. It was not clear if all the casualties were workers.

Nearby factory set ablaze
Firefighters were trying to put out a blaze in a nearby factory that also caught fire, Maliksi said.

The cause of the blast was not immediately established.

Army Col. Romeo Ucag, who responded with his men, said shockwaves shattered windows and toppled concrete fences of nearby homes, knocking out electricity and raining down unexploded fireworks in the area.

Ucag told The Associated Press by telephone he heard the explosion and saw a thick column of smoke from his post in Tanza township, six miles north of Trece Martires.

Jerahmeel Razo, who lives about 500 yards from the factory, said he first heard a small explosion followed seconds later by a bigger and louder bang.

"The flames appeared to be racing toward me and it shattered my windows," he said.

He said his screen door was ripped apart and the main door blown from its hinges. His legs were cut by glass on the floor as he knelt to shield himself.

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