PULGOAN , India, May 31 (UPI) — Fire and explosions at the Indian army’s largest munitions depot early Tuesday killed 15 soldiers and injured 19, officials said.
The depot at Pulgaon, near the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra state, is among the largest ammunition storage centers in the world. One injured person suggested old and unused bombs scheduled for disposal were the source of the explosion. About 1,000 people in neighboring villages were evacuated as artillery shells and bullets exploded.
Army sources told Indian newspaper The Hindu some of the injuries were regarded as critical.
Although the primary fire was extinguished, officials said secondary fires and explosions remain a hazard because of the large amount of ammunition stored at the facility. The army immediately ordered an inquiry into the cause of the incident.
India’s army has had problems with ammunition storage in the past. Two people died, and nearly $90 million in losses were caused by a fire at the Bharatpur depot. A depot fire in Kashmir’s Anantnag district injured 25 people and prompted the evacuation of thousands more, and a fire at the Panagarh depot provoked a series of explosions, but no casualties, in 2010.