- Eighteen people, including two Army officers, 13 fire-fighters killed
- Defence Minister visited Pulgaon, said he did not rule out foul play
- Pulgaon is home to the country's biggest military ammunition depot
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who visited Pulgaon in north Maharashtra on Tuesday afternoon, said the exact cause of the fire would be known only after inquiry, but added, "We are not ruling out any possibility...there is no sabotage as such." He also said it was "too early to speculate about the cause."
Firemen fought the flames for over six hours, losing at least 13 colleagues one by one. The two Army officers who died, Lt Col RS Pawar and Major K Manoj, the chief security officer of the depot, had rushed towards the flames to prevent crucial ammunition from being blown up. 17 people were injured.
As evening descended over Pulgaon, in Maharashtra, on Tuesday, the conversation veered towards the firemen who lost their lives, among them locals.
"Local people are among those firemen who died. There also are those jawans who have retired and are now again in service," said a bespectacled man outside the depot gate.
"After the explosions we are scared. So people are staying in the open till late," said a villager Visheshwar Kokande, as his wife pointed at their goat and a lamb, adding that the animals too were agitated.
The impact of the explosions nearly 5 km away are clearly visible in the village.
At the Bhavani temple where they took shelter, the powerful explosions from the fire blew off seven window frames of a wall. Shattered black glass lay strewn all over. Even metal frames were bent by the vibrations.