Major fire at India’s biggest arms depot, 17 killed

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In a shocking development, at least 17 security personnel, including two army officers, were killed on Tuesday after a major fire broke out at the central ammunition depot in Maharashtra’s Pulgoan that houses the biggest stockpile of weapons in the country.

According to PTI report, two officers, including one Lieutenant Colonel rank and 15 Defence Security Corp (DSC) jawans were among those killed in the blaze.

Also, at least 19 security personnel were injured in the fire that has spread to number of sheds that houses ammunitions, bombs and other explosive items.

Sources said residents of nearby villages have been evacuated and Army helicopters pressed into service to help in the evacuation of the injured security personnel.

“The main fire at one of the sheds has been extinguished.

The situation is being stabilised. Secondary fire and explosions cannot be ruled out now,” the Army officer said refusing to go into the reasons of the fire.

Army has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

The central ammunition depot at Pulgaon is India’s biggest ammunition depot as stocks from various factories comes here first and is then distributed to various forward areas. Pulgaon is 110 kms from Nagpur.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted saying he was pained by the fire at the ammunition depot and loss of lives. He said that the defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, will soon visit the area.

He said, “Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. pray that those who are injured recover quickly. Have asked RM @manoharparrikar to visit the spot & take stock of the situation. (sic)”

Ammunitions expert Brigadier Sandeep Bhalla told NDTV that among the 17 who died were two army officers who tried to keep crucial explosives from blowing up. The injured, according to the channel, reportedly also include the Commanding Officer of the depot who was leading efforts to protect the ammunition.

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