The blaze happened Friday evening in the town of Pallipat, located 56 miles from Chennai. Police told CNN that three people have been arrested in connection with the deadly fire, including the owner of the store and the landlord.
The U.S. broadcaster, noting that fireworks were being sold ahead of the major Hindu festival of Diwali, quoted S. Radhakrishnan, a Tamil Nadu state police official, as saying the store was operating illegally after being denied a license.
The Press Trust of India said the victims had been burned so badly that local authorities have asked people in nearby villages, such as the neighboring Chittor in Andhra Pradesh, to tell them about any missing people.
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