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16 dead, 17 injured in major fire at Central Ammunition Depot in Maharashtra
Mumbai, May 31, 2016
At least 16 people died and 17 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out in the early hours of today and triggered huge explosions at the Central Ammunition Depot (CAD) at Pulgoan in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
Official sources said the fire, which broke out around 1 am and lit up the night sky in the town, located about 115 km from Nagpur, had been completely doused and the situation brought under control.
They said that, in the efforts to bring the blaze under control, two officers and 14 personnel -- including one Army jawan and 13 civilian fire fighting staff -- lost their lives.
The injured included two officers and 15 personnel -- nine Army jawans and six civilian fire fighting staff.
The injured personnel were evacuated to the Multi-Specialty Hospital at Wardha, about 35 km from Pulgaon, for medical treatment.
"The medical condition of the injured personnel is reported to be stable. Army medical teams have been moved from Pune to provide specialist medical attention," a press release from the Ministry of Defence said.
The depot is spread over an area of more than 7000 acres and is an important ammunition depot of the Indian Army. It stores a variety of ammunition in numerous sheds located in the depot.
The release said that, as per initial reports, the fire started in one of the sheds, and immediate action was taken by the fire fighting parties and Quick Reaction Teams located in the depot by putting the fire fighting mechanism into place as per the laid down procedures.
"This restricted the fire to one shed only which contained highly sensitive ammunition," it said.
"The cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained. Actions to assess the damage are in progress. An inquiry has been ordered by the Army," it said.
"We express deep condolences to the families of the brave hearts who have lost their lives while protecting and securing the important ammunition depot," the release added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the fire.
“Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. My thoughts are with the bereaved families," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter
"I pray that those who are injured recover quickly," he said, adding that he had asked Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to rush to the spot and take stock of the situation.
Later, Mr. Parrikar and Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh visited the depot for an assessment of the situation.