Sabotage has been ruled out as reason behind the deadly explosion in the eastern district of Batticaloa on Friday morning in which 25 people were killed and 52 injured.
The defence ministry labelled it as an ``industrial accident’’ caused when a container full of dynamites meant for highway construction accidentally blew up, triggering explosions in two more explosive-laden containers parked near it.
Hours after the explosion, Sri Lankan authorities revised the number of those who died in the explosion from a much higher number of 60 to 25.
Initial information pegged the number of deaths at 60 as authorities suspected that the number of policemen who perished was more.
Among those who died in the accidental blast were 16 policemen and nine civilians including two Chinese nationals.
The accident occurred around 11:30 am inside the premises of the Karadiyanaru police station, some 260 km east of Colombo, when, according to the defence ministry, the two Chinese nationals arrived at the location to unload the dynamites from the containers. The explosives belonging to a Chinese company were to be used for constructing a highway in the area.
First, one container blew up and other two subsequently exploded as well.
The huge explosion completely wrecked the police station and triggered panic in the area.
``We had suspected at least 60 had died in the explosion because around 50-60 policemen deployed at the police station. But a little after the explosion, we learnt that many policemen were out on duty,’’ military spokesperson Major General Ubaya Medawala said.
He added that at least four among the 52 injured were critical and had been flown to the Colombo general hospital for treatment.
The explosion also triggered fears of foul play – Batticaloa was under the control of Tamil Tiger rebels for years before the army took control of the district in 2007.
``There’s not an iota of doubt that the explosion was an accident. Foul play has been completely ruled out. There’s no security problem in the area.’’