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FIREThe intensity of fire and explosions at the central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra, that left 16 persons dead, was such that seven of the victims were blown to pieces, a top police official said.

The fire-explosions killed 16 persons – 13 fire brigade personnel, two Army officers and one jawan.

“Seven of them were blown to pieces and their body parts were later recovered from the site. The impact of the fire and explosions was so severe that these victims were thrown in the air and landed in pieces,” a top police official said on the condition of anonymity.

He said all the 16 victims were dead on the spot.

The massive fire at one of Asia’s biggest ammunition depots that houses the largest stockpile of weapons in the country broke out around 1 AM on Tuesday, in which 17 personnel, including Army Jawans and civilian fire fighting staff, were injured.

Loud explosions were heard one after the other and raging fire lit up the night sky at Pulgaon in Wardha district.

The police official said it was for the first time in the history of this depot that such fatalities has occurred.

On two occasions in the past, major fires were recorded — in 1980 and 2004. However, there was no loss of life.

The injured were admitted to Acharya Vinoba Bhave Rural Hospital in Sawangi Meghe village, attached to Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College.

“17 persons are undergoing treatment at the hospital. Out of them, three were operated for minor injuries. Four others were surgically operated. While one person was admitted with severe burn injuries, another one with neuro injuries,” Dr Sandeep Shrivastava, dean of the college and hospital said.

Deputy Commandant of the central ammunition depot, Col Gajendra Singh, is among the injured and he is out of danger, Shrivastava added.

Most of the patients complained of injuries in ear drums. Some of them sustained burn wounds, while some others were injured due to flying splinters after explosions, he said.

Two of the injured who are in critical condition will be shifted to Mumbai, if necessary, Maharashtra Medical Education Minister Vinod Tawde said.

Tawde, who visited Pulgaon, said Rs 5 lakh will be given to the kin of each deceased and Rs 1 lakh to the injured.