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LIVE: Fire at Pulgaon ammunition depot doused completely; 20 killed, 90 injured

In a major fire followed by a blast at India's biggest Central Ammunition Depot at Pulgaon in adjoining Wardha district in Maharashtra, 20 personnel including 18 Defence Security Corps jawans and two officers have been killed in the fire and 19 have been injured, army officials have said.

Devparna Acharya May 31, 2016 13:55:49 IST
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LIVE: Fire at Pulgaon ammunition depot doused completely; 20 killed, 90 injured

Highlights

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

May 31, 2016 - 16:07 (IST)

Injured hospitalised, stable

A CNN-News 18 report says that all injured have been evacuated and shifted to Wardha hospital.

May 31, 2016 - 16:03 (IST)

Fire completely doused

The fire that started at 1 am has been completely doused, said Lt Gen Ranbir Singh. The army has also moved medical teams from Pune to help with the injuries and has also ordered an enquiry to investigate into the incident. 

May 31, 2016 - 16:00 (IST)

Pulgaon depot responsible for all-India supply of ammo

To put things into perspective, the Pulgaon depot is responsible for the all-India supply of ammunition and explosives after it receives them from agencies including Ordnance Factories and trade sources. It, in turn, issues these to other ammunition depots or field ammunition depots for replenishing of stocks.

May 31, 2016 - 15:53 (IST)

Safety of civilians around ammo areas important

Sunil Raman further writes for Firstpost that a fire in 2000 at an ammunition depot in Bharatpur in Rajasthan put the spotlight on the handling of ammunition and the safety of civilians around such locations. And that in the recent years, the defence ministry has been under pressure from local politicians to relax norms on no-go-areas around these ammunition depots.

May 31, 2016 - 15:49 (IST)

Several fires at ammunition depots

A Sunil Raman article in Firstpost says that in recent years, there have been several fires at ammunition depots, with the last one in West Bengal's Panagarh, which is also an IAF base that was rocked by explosions in 2010.

May 31, 2016 - 15:43 (IST)

CAD in Pulgaon, one among many

A report by the Ministry of Defence detailed that apart from the central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, there are 14 others located in different parts of the country.

May 31, 2016 - 15:39 (IST)

CAD also involved in demilitarising ammunition

An earlier report in The Hindu mentioned that the depot, besides storing ammunition reserves, is also involved in demilitarising or disposing the ammunition, after its expiry date. This is naturally a dangerous process and is usually done in open spaces where the demolition explosives are employed, as accidents are common.

May 31, 2016 - 15:31 (IST)

Fire under control

Fire caused by primary explosion has been brought under control, according to reports by India Today. The Master general Ordnance will also visit the site.

May 31, 2016 - 15:19 (IST)

Sabotage not ruled out

The fire, which injured 20, spread to a number of sheds that housed ammunitions, bombs and other explosive item. Though the cause of the blaze has not been ascertained, the officials have not ruled out sabotage. Some with burn injuries are in a critical condition. 

May 31, 2016 - 15:09 (IST)

Residents evacuated from nearby villages

A report in The Indian Express mentioned that the area has been cordoned off and that residents from nearby villages were evacuated. Army helicopters were also used to help shift injured security personnel.

In a major fire followed by a blast at India's biggest Central Ammunition Depot at Pulgaon in Maharashtra, 20 Army personnel, including 18 Defence Security Corps jawans and two officers, have been killed.

According to latest reports, Army chief General Dalbir Singh has left for Pulgaon. ANI tweeted:

The 25 injured are in the ICU at a hospital in Wardha, 40km from Pulgaon, Times Now reported. The fire has now been brought under controlSome of them with burn injuries are in a critical condition, an army officer said.

LIVE Fire at Pulgaon ammunition depot doused completely 20 killed 90 injured

A screengrab of the fire that broke out at Pulgaon killed 20. Courtesy - CNN News18

The main source of the fire was a shed which caught fire.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Defence Minister to visit the central ammunition depot in Maharashtra's Pulgaon to take stock of the situation. Modi also expressed pain over the loss of lives caused by the fire and prayed for quick recovery of the injured.

The figure of casualties, including fatalities, is expected to increase even as nightlong fire-fighting efforts continued inside the sprawling CAD. Lt Col R S Pawar and Major K Manoj, were among those who were killed in the fire, reported India Today. The ammunition depot has the highest level of security, the report added.

The ammunition depot at Pulgaon is Asia's second largest weapons depot. According to this report in NDTV, officials said the fire broke out due to secondary explosions around 1 am.

NDTV reported that over a 1,000 people have been evacuated from villages near Pulgaon Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is supposed to reach Pulgaon by Tuesday afternoon, NDTV report said.

Reactions soon started pouring in. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis offered condolences to those injured and to the families of the bereaved.

PM Modi tweeted that he was "Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra."

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis offered his condolences.I pray that those who are injured recover quickly. Have asked RM @manoharparrikar to visit the spot & take stock of the situation.

"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 km from Nagpur.

With inputs from PTI

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