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Indian ammunition depot blast and fire kills 17

31 May 2016

An explosion and fire at a large military ammunition depot in India has killed at least 17 people and injured 19, according to the Press Trust of India. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes as emergency teams fought the fire in Wardha, Maharashtra state, on the morning of May 31. The Nagpur fire department said the fire was brought under control by 6.15 am.

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Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the state government was making "every resource" available to the army to help it control the situation, and was making sure all local hospitals were equipped to deal with the injured.

Smita Patil, superintendent of Wardha district police, told AFP from the scene: "Seventeen people have died. Nineteen are injured but are out of danger.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar went to the depot to take stock of the situation. The main site of the blaze has been extinguished but secondary fires and explosions have not been ruled out and precautions are being taken to control any continuing threat.

In 2007, a fire tore through an ammunition dump in Indian Kashmir, exploding artillery shells and mortar rounds, which then rained down on surrounding villages.  At least 17 people were killed and two dozen more injured.

A blaze also ripped through a large ammunition depot in Kolkata in 2010, destroying 150 tons of explosives and ammunition. No one was killed in that incident.

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