At least 17 Defence Security Corps jawans and two army officers were killed and 19 injured after a fire broke out at the Central Ammunition Depot in Pulgaon, in Maharashtra.
A fire broke out at around 1 am in a shed, which quickly spread across one of the biggest ammunition depots in the country.
According to a media report, though the fire-fighters have controlled the fire, smaller explosions and fires still pose a threat. Attempts are being made to normalise the situation. Pulgaon is located around 110 km from Nagpur.
It may be noted the depot stores ammunition needed for a range of arms from BrahMos missile to AK-47. Barriers have been erected in a bid to prevent access to civilians, except army and DSC personnel. The depot caters to the entire western sector of the army.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. I pray that those who are injured recover quickly. Have asked defence minister Manohar Parrikar to visit the spot & take stock of the situation.”
Defence Minister Parrikar who was in Pune to attend the eighth convocation ceremony of defence institute of advance technology will arrive at the spot in a few hours.
Thousands of families living in nearby 15 villages including Zanzala, Pimpri, Agargaon have been evacuated to safer places.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has expressed shock at 19 army personnel being killed in a fire at Central Ammunition Depot near Wardha.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army has ordered an investigation, but it could not be confirmed if the fire was an accident or an act of sabotage. The arms depot recently got an award for using solar energy to dispose off expired ammunition.