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HYDERABAD, India - Seven workers died of suffocation Friday while cleaning an underground drainage pit at a poultry farm in southern India, police said.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Chowdesari said the deaths occurred in Morem village in Andhra Pradesh state.

After the first worker entered the drainage pit, he shouted for help because he had difficulty breathing. Chowdesari, who uses one name, said the eight other workers entered the pit to help.

He said four died on the spot and three others succumbed later in a hospital.

A large number of villagers gathered outside the poultry farm and demanded the arrest of farm officials.

Police said they were investigating the deaths.

Such accidents are common in India, where workers clean deep drainage pits without protective gear.

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