NEW DELHI — A fire broke out at a major ammunition depot in western India on Tuesday, killing at least 17 army personnel, the Defence Ministry said.
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. The army said that by evening the fire had been completely extinguished.
New Delhi Television reported that about 1,000 villagers had to be evacuated from the area soon after the blaze started.
The cause of the fire at the ammunition depot, one of India’s largest, was not immediately known.
Devendra Fadnavis, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, where the depot is located, told reporters that the fire caused a “massive loss of life and property.”
Fadnavis said the state government was making “every resource” available to the army to help it respond to the situation, and was ensuring that all local hospitals were equipped to deal with the injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “pained by loss of lives” and had asked the defence minister to visit the site.