1 killed, thousands flee as blasts hit Sri Lankan armoury

  • PTI, Colombo
  • Updated: Jun 06, 2016 12:36 IST
Sri Lankan soldiers gather at a distance as smoke and fire rise following explosions at an army ammunition dump at Salawa Military Camp on the outskirts of Colombo. (AFP)

A soldier was charred to death and thousands of people were evacuated after a 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 armoury at Salawa area in Avissawella, 30 kms east of Colombo, caught fire at around 5pm (local time) on Sunday, setting off huge explosions that went on through the night.

“A soldier has been killed and the military has entered the premises,” military spokesperson Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera said, adding that soldiers have doused the fire.

At least five persons have been injured in the fire and their condition remained stable.

The armoury is one of the largest ammunition storage of the Sri Lankan Army.

The cause behind the incident was not immediately known.

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 km 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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