Three people were killed in an explosion at a civilian explosives factory in central Italy Wednesday, firefighters told AFP.

The explosion near Chieti - whose cause is so far unknown - occurred near midday at a company that not only manufactures explosives but defuses bombs and mines, according to its website.

Local news reports said there had also been an unknown number of injuries at the plant.

The factory, Sabino Explosives, was the scene of another explosion that killed three people in December 2020. 

A preliminary hearing over that earlier case was due to open Thursday, according to media reports. 

The company was put into receivership following the investigation into the earlier blast and did not reopen until seven months later in July 2021, reports said. 

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