05/31/2016, 09.33
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Card. Gracias: Deep sorrow for the deaths of soldiers in ammunition depot fire

by Nirmala Carvalho

Death toll of 17 victims and 19 seriously injured, but out of danger. Around 1000 people evacuated. The deposit is located in Pulgaon, Maharashtra, and is the largest in the country. The explosions occurred in the early hours of this morning. The flames were quelled after several hours.


Pulgaon (AsiaNews) - "The Catholic Church in India expresses its condolences for the tragic loss of life among our beloved soldiers”, Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) tells AsiaNews, expressing "deep sorrow" for the deaths of soldiers during a fire at the Pulgaon ammunition depot, Maharashtra. The death toll from the accident that occurred around 1.30 am (local time) this morning is 17 victims, including two officers, and 19 seriously wounded, but out of danger.

The fire brigade is still battling the flames and it seems that in addition to the first outbreak, that has been put out, there is a second fire in the same complex.

Witnesses reported multiple explosions that triggered the flames, which spread very quickly. The fire, which broke out in the early hours of this morning, was quelled only after four hours with the use of 10 fire engines.

The cause of the accident is unknown. The army has ordered the opening of an investigation and nearby military intelligence sources reported that the possibility of sabotage cannot be ruled out. Meanwhile the authorities have evacuated about 1,000 residents of neighboring villages, because of bullets and shrapnel splattered everywhere.

The Pulgaon deposit, near Nagpur, is the largest ammunition store in India, and second largest in Asia. But it is not the first incident in a similar site. In 2010 a fire struck the Panagarh deposit, but at that time there were no victims.

On learning of the incident, Card. Gracias said: "Our hearts go out to the families of the brave soldiers and officers who have lost their lives. May the Lord give them solace and bless their families with courage, hope and strength. We pray for the families, parents and colleagues of the military personnel injured in this tragic explosion. We also pray for the safety of our beloved nation and entrust India to the protection of Mary".

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