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.
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.
Chhayanath Rara Municipality bans liquor
RARA— Chhayanath Rara Municipality in Mugu district has been declared liquor-free zone. Declaration of a liquor-free zone was made amid a program on Saturday with a huge presence of locals from all 14 wards.
The municipality and local police administration had conducted a regular publicity campaign in all settlements for two months.
Chief Minister, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi read out a commitment paper by declaring a liquor-free zone to the municipality.
Chairman of Ward No. 5 Dambar Bahadur Rawal of the municipality shared that the municipality council took a decision two months ago to impose a ban on liquor in the municipality with the conclusion that gender-based violence, child marriage, misuse of development and irregularity increased due to liquor.
Mayor Harijung Shahi, lawmaker Gopal Bahadur Bam, representatives of Mugu Chamber of Commerce and Industries, among others were present on the occasion.
During the event, Chief Minister Shahi compared Karnali with heaven.Follow @gorkhapost