At least six people were killed and 10 injured near an Indian Army depot in Pulgaon of Wardha district in Maharashtra on Tuesday PTI reported.
BB Pande, the defence public relations officer in Nagpur, confirmed that the incident occurred while a team was disposing of old explosives, according to Hindustan Times. “An accident occurred while Khamaria ordnance factory staff were conducting a demolition of old explosives at 7.10 am on Tuesday,” junior captain BB Pande said. “The demolition was being conducted in the demolition land under the jurisdiction of central arms depot in Pulgaon.”
The Maharashtra government declared a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the kin of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh for the people who were critically injured.
Inspector General of Police (Nagpur Range) KMM Prasanna said four people died on the spot, while two others succumbed to their injuries in a hospital. The dead included an ammunition factory employee and three workers. Residents of Pulgaon are among those injured in the blast.
Wardha’s Additional Superintendent of Police Nikhil Pingle said at least 10 to 15 contract workers were at the site when the incident occurred. “The blast occurred in one of the ammunition boxes while unloading the ammunition,” he said. “The incident took place in an open area.”
Prasanna said the injured have been admitted to a hospital in Savangi village nearby. While one of them is in a critical state and three received serious injuries, six others were out of danger, he added.
A report in The Times of India quoted unidentified officials as saying that the ordnance factory had stopped manufacturing the ammunition being disposed of, 23 mm Shilka anti-aircraft ammunition rounds, because of technical glitches.
An unidentified defence official said the ground near the depot had been given to the Ordnance Factory in Madhya Pradesh’s Khamaria for demolition activities. “The demolition was being carried out by staff of the Ordnance Factory, Khamaria, with the help of an authorised contractor,” said the official. “Contractual services are used for digging pit and placing sand bag over the explosive.”
Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Twitter, said she was “saddened by the accident”. The ordnance factory’s general manager and the district administration are coordinating the relief operation, Sitharaman said.
In June 2016, at least 16 people were killed and several injured at the Army’s Central Ammunition Depot in Pulgaon after a fire broke out.