The death toll from the massive fire that broke out at one of Asia’s biggest ammunition depot in Pulgaon has increased to 19.
The ammunition depot houses the largest stockpile of weapons in the country.
Three more bodies were on Wednesday recovered from the site of the fire mishap at central ammunition depot at Pulgaon in Wardha district.
The cause of the blaze that started around 1 am on Tuesday is yet to be ascertained. The sprawling 7,000-acre depot, some 115 km from Nagpur, houses the country’s biggest stockpile of weapons, including Brahmos missiles, AK47 rifles, other arms and ammunition, bombs and explosive items.
The massive fire was completely doused and the situation brought under control after an overnight operation.
Following a directive from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was in Pune, rushed to the spot. Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag also visited the site.
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.
Eyewitnesses and military officials said loud explosions followed a massive fireball at one of the sheds at the depot where ammunition with expired shelf life is also disposed. The depot recently won an award for using solar energy to dispose of expired ammunition.
The Army and civil administration as a precaution got five nearby villages evacuated amid deafening explosions and rising flames at the depot. However, some 1,000 men and women from these villages returned to their homes by Tuesday afternoon.