New Delhi — A fire broke out at a major ammunitions depot in western India on Tuesday, killing at least 17 army personnel, the Defense Ministry said,AP reports. At least 19 other people were injured in the blaze, said ministry spokesman Nitin Wakanker.
The fire at the Pulgaon ammunitions depot started before dawn, said an official at the local police station, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. Wakanker said that attempts to control the fire were still underway late Tuesday afternoon.
New Delhi Television reported that about 1,000 villagers had been evacuated from around the area. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Devendra Fadnavis, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, where the depot is located, told reporters that the fire had caused a “massive loss of life and property.”
Fadnavis said that the state government was making “every resource” available to the army to help it control the situation, and was ensuring that all local hospitals were equipped to deal with the injured who were being brought in.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “pained by loss of lives” in the fire and added that he had asked the defense minister to visit the site. The Pulgaon ammunition depot, one of India’s largest, is located in Maharastra state’s Wardha district.