At least 17 people have died and over a dozen injured in central India after a fire broke out at a military ammunition depot early Tuesday. The deceased include two army officers, local reports said.
The incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m., local time, (4:00 p.m. EDT) at the Central Ammunition Depot in Pulgaon city of Wardha district in the western state of Maharashtra. Two army officers and 15 soldiers from Defence Security Corps were killed, the Times of India newspaper reported citing defense sources.
Although the main fire has been extinguished, officials say there are chances of secondary fires and explosions, the newspaper reported. Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar is expected to visit the Pulgaon depot soon.
Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 31, 2016
Nearby villages and thousands of families have been evacuated as a precautionary measure, Indo-Asian News Service reported. The death toll may increase amid the ongoing firefighting efforts in the depot.
A Special Investigation Team has been set up to investigate the cause of the fire. The army has ordered a Court of Inquiry or investigation, local news network NDTV reported.
The ammunition depot is the largest in India and second largest in Asia. The Pulgaon depot also disposes ammunition whose shelf life has expired.