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India ammunition depot fire kills at least 17 army personnel

A person injured in a fire at Pulgaon ammunitions depot is brought in for treatment at a hospital in Wardha, India. Picture by Associated Press 
Muneeza Naqvi, Associated Press

AT least 17 army personnel have died after a fire broke out at a major ammunition depot in western India, the country's Defence Ministry said.

At least 19 other people were injured in the blaze, according to ministry spokesman Nitin Wakanker.

The fire at the Pulgaon ammunitions depot started before dawn. The army said that by evening the fire had been completely extinguished.

New Delhi Television reported that about 1,000 villagers had to be evacuated from the area soon after the blaze started.

Devendra Fadnavis, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, where the depot is located, told reporters that the fire caused a "massive loss of life and property".

Mr Fadnavis said the state government was making "every resource" available to the army to help it respond to the situation, and was ensuring that all local hospitals were equipped to deal with the injured.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was "pained by loss of lives" and had asked the defence minister to visit the site.

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