Sri Lanka ammunition depot blast during fire drill?
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s worst ammunition depot blast occurred during a routine fire drill at the Salawa military complex, defence secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi said today.
The blast was triggered by a fire that broke out at ammunition storage facility located within a highly built-up area, which had some 32,000 people living within a radius of six kilometres.
"In every building, there is a fire drill… You raise the alarm and carry out an exercise without a fire," he told reporters in Colombo. "It is at a time like this that this thing happened. This is what I heard. Anyway it will come in a report. "
He did not say if the soldiers had created a fire as part of the exercise to put out or if the fire broke out coincidentally while troops were carrying out a routine fire drill. However, he said a court of inquiry will identify those responsible.
He said the government analyst will also report on the cause of the disaster, but he also raised doubts if forensic experts will find enough evidence to identify the origin of the fire.
"If there is enough evidence for the government analyst to make a determination is a different matter," he said.
At least one soldier was killed and seven other wounded as a result of Sunday’s fire, which burnt till Monday morning. In the ensuing explosions, at least 300 houses in the neighbourhood were completely destroyed.
Official figures show that another 600 houses were partly damaged and a total of 18,000 people were driven from their homes following the blast, the biggest in peace time Sri Lanka.
(COLOMBO, June 7, 2016)