(Reuters) - At least 17 people died and 80 were injured in an unexplained explosion in an eastern suburb of Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon, around 2 a.m Thursday (2:30 p.m. Wednesday EST), police said.

Witnesses had earlier said about 50 dead bodies had been found, but a police officer said 12 men and five women had been confirmed dead as of 6:00 a.m.

Witnesses heard one big explosion then several smaller ones.

There are many casualties. We are not in a position to give you further information. We are still looking into it, a second police officer from Mingalar Taungnyunt Township Police Station told Reuters.

The shock from the loud explosion, apparently in a storage warehouse in Sat San Ward in Mingalar Taungnyunt, was felt by many people in eastern and central Yangon.

Fire engines from all parts of Yangon were at the scene, witnesses said. Fire was reported to have spread to a nearby shipyard and factories.

(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Alan Raybould and Ed Lane)