At least 17 army personnel have been killed and around 19 others have been injured in a fire that engulfed India’s largest ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra.
The fire started at around 1.30 am. Two of the 17 dead were officers who were trying their best to prevent the fire from reaching explosives.
“17 people have died. 19 are injured but are out of danger,” said Smita Patil, superintendent of Wardha district police. “An operation is in progress and the fire has been brought under control,” she added.
The injured reportedly includes the Commanding Officer of the depot. The other 15 were jawans of the Defence Security Corps (DSC).
According to officials, the fire started at a shed at the ammunition depot. Ten fire engines were pressed into service to contain the blaze.
By early morning, the main fire was brought under control but officials have not ruled out secondary fires. As a procedure, hundreds of families living in nearby towns and villages have been evacuated.
The Pulgaon depot, located in Nagpur, is Asia’s second largest and stores a wide variety of ammunition including critical ones.
The blaze could be seen from afar.
A SIT has been set-up to probe the incident. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is expected to visit the site soon.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences.