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Kashmir fire: villagers asked to delay return

Thousands of Kashmiri villagers who fled their homes in the wake of a devastating fire in an ammunition depot, were advised to delay their return.

india Updated: Aug 12, 2007 23:18 IST

Thousands of Kashmiri villagers who fled their homes in the wake of a devastating fire in an ammunition depot, were on Sunday advised to delay their return till their areas are declared safe.

"Villagers have been advised not to immediately return to their homes as some unexploded shells are still lying at many places around the depot," a senior Army officer told reporters in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on Sunday.

Massive explosions in the Khandroo Field Ammunition Depot (FOD), 15 kms from Anantnag, on Saturday resulted in the entire complex catching fire, creating fear and panic among residents of 18 villages around the camp.

Intermittent explosions and the billowing smoke from the ammunition depot continued till midday on Sunday.

Two people - a soldier and a villager - are reported dead and 40 wounded in the accident.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday made an aerial survey of 18 villages around the Khandroo FOD from where the residents have been evacuated to safer places.

Education Minister Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed, Chief Secretary C Phonsung and Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda accompanied Azad.

Azad later met senior Army and civil officers and discussed relief measures for the migrated families.

Thirteen medical teams have been rushed to Anantnag district to provide medicines and emergency assistance to the affected families.

The state police on Sunday dispatched dozens of tents to Anantnag district headquarters for temporary accommodation of the affected families.

Home guard and civil defence volunteers also rushed to help out the villagers, presently lodged in tents and government buildings at Anantnag.