Government says 60 feared killed in accidental blast in eastern Sri Lanka

Friday, September 17, 2010

Government: 60 feared killed in Sri Lanka blast

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Three containers filled with explosives meant for road construction detonated Friday outside a police station in eastern Sri Lanka, killing as many as 60 people in a blast government officials called an accident.

Images of the blast on Maharaja Television showed the police station reduced to rubble.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Ubaya Medawala said it was unclear what triggered the explosion of the containers, which were stored by the police station in the Batticaloa district for safety reasons.

The explosives, probably dynamite, were for a road construction project being carried out by a Chinese company, he said. The dead included police personnel and two Chinese construction workers, and could reach as high as 60, he said.

Thyagendra Senthuran, a doctor at Chenkalady hospital near the blast site, said he has received 15 dead bodies and 20 wounded people, many with severe head wounds.

“Still we are receiving bodies,” he said.

Lakshman Hulugalla, a government spokesman, ruled out any possibility of sabotage, saying, “It is an accidental explosion.”

The site of the blast, Karadiyanaru, is a small town in the former conflict zone in the east. The government has initiated a major construction drive there to build roads, reservoirs and other infrastructure following the end of the war with the Tamil Tiger rebels last year.

The area was once controlled by the now-defeated rebels, who carried out hundreds of bombings against government and civilian targets.

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