Nagpur, May 31 (IANS) A Lt. Colonel and a Major were among the 16 dead when a massive blaze swept through India's biggest Central Ammunition Depot at Pulgaon in Maharashtra's Wardha district early on Tuesday, an official said here.
The officers have been identified as Lt. Col. R. S. Pawar and Major Mohan K. who were based at the depot. The other dead are a soldier and 13 civilian firemen.
Spread over an area of more than 7,000 acres, CAD Pulgaon, around 115 km from here is an important ammunition depot for the defence services, storing a variety of arms, ammunition and others equipment used by the army, air force and navy, in several sheds located inside the campus, which is off-bounds for the civilians.
The fire erupted in one of the sheds at around 1 a.m. and fire-fighters as well as Quick Reaction Teams located inside the CAD rushed there to douse the conflagration as per laid down procedures.
This restricted the fire to just one shed only which contained highly sensitive ammunition, the details of which have not been disclosed.
Though the fire was completely doused by afternoon, a total of 16 persons lost their lives, while two officers, nine soldiers and six civilian firefighters were injured during the operations.
The injured have been rushed to the Multi-Speciality Hospital in Wardha, around 35 kms from Pulgaon, and their condition have been described as "stable".
Army medical teams have been dispatched from Pune to provide specialist medical attention to the victims of the disaster, the cause of which will be enquired into by an army court of enquiry.
Simultaneoulsy, actions to asses the damage caused to army assets and weapons is currently underway.
On Tuesday afternoon, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh and other senior defence officials visited the site to take stock and review the situation.
Speaking to media persons briefly, Parrikar said that the probe would determine the exact causes of the blaze and whether it was a sabotage or an accident.