1 killed, thousands flee as blasts hit Sri Lankan armoury

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Colombo, Jun 6: A soldier was charred to death and thousands of people were evacuated after a major fire triggered a series of explosions at one of Sri Lanka's largest ammunition dumps where the army stores heavy weapons, prompting President Maithripala Sirisena to launch a probe.

The ammunition dump at Salawa area in Avissawella, 30 kms east of here, caught fire at around 5 PM (local time) yesterday, setting off huge explosions that went on through the night.

 Blasts hit Sri Lankan armoury

"A soldier has been killed and the military has entered the premises," military spokesman Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera said, adding that soldiers have doused the fire. At least five persons have been injuries in the fire and their condition remained stable.

The armory is one of the largest ammunition storage of the Sri Lankan Army. The cause behind the incident was not immediately known.

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Residents said loud explosions were heard with raging fire within the complex which houses weapons ranging from T56 rifles to mortar bombs. All residents within a five kms radius of the complex were evacuated last night was to prevent people from inhaling fumes emanating from the fire.

"People within a kilometre of the camp can now return to their homes," Jayaweera said. Residents said the fire could be seen even this morning, more than 12 hours after the first explosions were heard. Sirisena has ordered a probe with the police's Crime Investigation Department carrying out investigations.


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