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Chinese embassy officials to probe Colombo blast: reports

Investigations are underway into Friday’s explosion in the eastern district of Batticaloa that claimed 26 lives and injured more than 50. Reports said officials from the Chinese embassy would also be conducting an enquiry as the explosives belonged to a Chinese company.

world Updated: Sep 18, 2010 20:57 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Investigations are underway into Friday’s explosion in the eastern district of Batticaloa that claimed 26 lives and injured more than 50.

Three containers loaded with dynamite exploded inside the premises of the Karadiyanaru police station, some 260 km east of Colombo, on Friday morning. The explosives were meant to be used for highway construction.

Two Chinese nationals were among those who died in, what the defence ministry, called an ``industrial accident.’’

Among those who died in the accidental blast were at least 16 policemen while many more were injured.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is currently in New York to attend the UN general assembly, is learnt to have instructed the police to conduct a thorough inquiry into the accidental explosion.

Reports said officials from the Chinese embassy would also be conducting an enquiry as the explosives belonged to a Chinese company.

The Chinese Ambassador in Colombo and a group of Chinese Embassy officials left for Karadiyanaru soon after the incident to inspect the site of the blast, *Daily Mirror online *reported.

The huge explosion completely wrecked the police station and triggered panic in the area. Pictures from the accident site showed a huge crater that has been created where the dynamite-laden containers were parked.

``We had suspected at least 60 had died in the explosion because around 50-60 policemen were 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.

Sabotage was ruled out as reason behind the deadly explosion. The explosion had 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,’’ Medawala said.