Sixteen people including 13 firefighters have been killed in a major blaze at India’s largest munitions depot in Pulgaon in the western state of Maharashtra, India.
Seventeen others, including nine soldiers, were injured and in a stable condition.
The cause of the fire at the depot, which broke out at around 1:00am on Tuesday 31st , was not yet known.
Scores of firefighters worked for about five hours to contain the blaze.
Scores of homes in the vicinity were destroyed in the fire, witnesses told news channels.
Witnesses said they heard several explosions.
Television footage showed flames lighting up the night sky.
When the first blast occurred, “it seemed as if there was an earthquake in Wardha”, a local woman told NDTV.
The stores reportedly house missiles, arms, ammunition, bombs and other explosives.
“Pained by loss of lives caused by fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
There have been a number of fires at military ammunition depots in India in recent years.
A huge fire at the Panagarh depot near an airbase in eastern India in 2010 destroyed a large cache of arms and ammunitions but there were no injuries.
In 2007, thousands of Kashmiri villagers were evacuated after a blaze enveloped a depot in Anantnag district.
In 2002, another fire at an ammunition depot in Rajasthan state claimed two lives and destroyed 65 trucks in a series of explosions.