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One dead, thousands evacuated after explosions at Sri Lankan armoury

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COLOMBO — An officer has been killed and a thousand of individuals were evacuated after a fire and a series of explosions rocked one of Sri Lanka’s largest ammunition dumps where the army stores heavy weapons.

Local TV channels showed rocket propelled grenade shells and shrapnel that had landed in the middle of a road.

Explosions at the army camp at Salawa, 33 kilometers east of the capital Colombo, continued for more than five hours.

The cause was not immediately known and the Government has ordered an investigation by the police criminal investigation department.

“The fire started in a small arms store and spread. There were heavy weapons such as artillery shells stored in the proximity but the damage is still unknown,” Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake told the media.

One soldier was killed and one injured in the blasts, an army spokesman said. But sources from two nearby hospitals said at least five people were being treated for injuries.

Pradeep Koddipily, spokesman for Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre, said residents living in a 5 kilometre radius had been asked to evacuate immediately. Thousands of people have already been evacuated fearing explosions.

The chief operating officer for the Colombo Fire Brigade said firefighters could not reach the site due to the intensity of the explosions.

“None of the trucks have entered the camp as it’s not safe to go inside. We have not handled this magnitude of armoury fire,” Rohitha Fernando said.

Army spokesman Jayanath Jayaweera said the Salawa armoury was one of the largest in the island nation.

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The main road in front of the camp, which thousands of workers take to go to and from Colombo, has been closed.

The Government ordered all schools and government offices in the area to remain closed on Monday.

Reuters

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Pakistan approves Mandarin as official language

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ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani Senate has approved a motion to declare Mandarin as one of the official languages of Pakistan on Monday.

Stating that the step was necessary in view of ties between Pakistan and China, the motion said the relationaship would further deepen between the two countries and help the people connected with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor communicate easily, AbbTakk News reported.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani tweeted: “In a short span of 70 years, Pakistan has flirted with promoting four languages that were not the mother tongue of many people in the country – English, Urdu, Arabic, and now Chinese — ignoring native languages”

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Punjabi, which is widely spoken in Punjab province of Pakistan, Pashto and many other native languages have not been declared official languages of the country.

According to Dawn News, Pakistanis are more interested in learning the Chinese language than ever as they see the tides changing and expect that knowing Mandarin would mean more job opportunities in Pakistan and China.

With ANI Inputs

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