Sri Lanka begins clearing after major accidental blast

KARADIYANARU, September 18, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lankan authorities Saturday began clearing rubble and wreckage after 25 people were killed in the first major explosion since the end of a decades-long civil war. Heavy earth-moving equipment was being brought to the village of Karadiyanaru, in the east of the island, as families of victims prepared for funerals.

“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 official told AFP.

He said the death toll was officially put at 25 based on a body count, but investigators were working to establish if there were people unaccounted for after three containers of explosives stored at a police station blew up on Friday.

The explosion left a crater about 35 feet (10 metres) deep at the site of Karadiyanaru police station where a huge amount of dynamite had been stored for safe keeping.

The explosives had been intended for rock blasting by a Chinese company building roads in the former war zone.

Two Chinese workers were among the 25 people killed, according to the government.

Friday’s blast was the first major explosion in Sri