Sri Lanka probes negligence after dynamite depot blast

KARADIYANARU, September 18, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lankan authorities on Saturday probed negligence as a possible cause of a powerful blast at a dynamite depot in the island’s east that killed 25 people. The military said that 16 policemen, two Chinese contractors and seven Sri Lankan civilians died in Friday’s explosion in Batticaloa district, while another 54 people were wounded.

Initial forensic reports suggested serious mistakes were made in storing explosives alongside detonators at the Karadiyanaru police station, a senior police official told AFP, declining to be named.

“It appears both dynamite and gelignite (used as detonating agents) were stored together and that’s something which should not have happened,” he said.

Families held two funerals Saturday for some of those killed in the explosion, with more scheduled for later.

Heavy earth-moving equipment was being brought to the village of Karadiyanaru to begin clearing the site of the blast, which was felt throughout a 10-mile (16-kilometre) radius.

“We are going to clear the site and see if there are any more bodies trapped under the wreckage of vehicles and buildings that were completely destroyed,” a local relief offi