Fire at chemical factory in India kills at least nine

An explosion and fire at a chemical factory in western India has killed at least nine people and injured 64 others, officials say.

The explosion on Thursday in the factory's boiler led to a fire that affected nearby factories and houses in Maharashtra state's Thane district, administrative official Sachin Shejal said.

Shejal said the blaze had been extinguished but rescuers were combing through the debris to recover bodies.

The cause of the explosion, which sent a huge cloud of grey smoke over the area, is being investigated.

Shejal said the explosion sent huge shockwaves that damaged adjacent factories and shattered glass windows in nearby houses.

Indian police on Friday filed charges of culpable homicide, including negligence in handling toxic substances, against the owners of the factory.

The factory produced food colouring and used highly reactive chemicals that could cause explosions, India's National Disaster Response Force said.

Fires are common across India because of poor safety standards and lax enforcement of regulations.

Activists say builders often cut corners on safety to save costs and have accused civic authorities of negligence and apathy.