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BBC: Dozens killed in Sri Lanka blast

Sep 17, 2010 7:05:45 AM- transcurrents.com

An explosion in Sri Lanka has killed at least 60 people, most of them policemen, officials say.

A military spokesman said vehicles carrying explosives accidentally blew up at a police station near the eastern city of Batticaloa.

The explosives were being signed over to two Chinese road construction contractors, said Maj Gen Ubaya Medawala.

At least 40 people are reported to have been injured.

Maj Gen Medawala told the BBC it was an accidental explosion, with "no sabotage suspected" as security was high at the police station.

The cause of the explosion was unknown, the general said.

He said the explosives were being loaded on to several vehicles at the police station when one of them blew up, setting off the other explosives.

The police station, in the small town of Karadiyanaru, was destroyed, he said.

A local journalist has reported that a police jeep accidentally crashed into the trucks, says the BBC's Charles Haviland in Sri Lanka.

Almost all of those killed were policemen, Maj Gen Medawala told the BBC. Also killed were the two Chinese nationals and several Sri Lankan civilians.

Chinese firms are heavily involved in road building and the construction of two ports in Sri Lanka.

The Batticaloa area was once controlled by the Tamil Tiger rebel group and remains one of the most politically tense in the country, says our correspondent.

Since the Tamil Tigers' defeat last year after a long-running civil war, the government has begun to rebuild roads and other infrastructure in the region. ~ Courtesy: BBC News ~

Report by Xinhua News Agnecy

The Chinese Embassy to Sri Lanka confirmed the death of two Chinese nationals in a blast and had despatched officials to investigate the accident in the eastern police station of Karadiyanaru, the embassy said on Friday.

A blast rocked the Karadiyanaru police station in the district of Batticaloa killing over 60 people including two Chinese nationals and injuring over 45 people, military officials said.

Two Chinese diplomats would carry out investigations, officials from the Chinese Embassy said.

"The Chinese company indulged in development work in the area had safe kept explosives at the police station. A container carrying the explosives exploded and triggered the explosion of the next two containers," Ubhaya Madawela, the military spokesman said.

The explosion took place at around 11:45 a.m. local time (0615 GMT).

Most of the dead are policemen, the police added. ~ Courtesy: Xinhua ~

Ministry of Defence - Sri Lanka:

Industrial accident kills over 20 people - Karadiyanaru, Batticaloa [2nd Lead]
Three containers carrying industrial explosives of a Chinese construction company have accidentally blew up killing over 20 people at Karadiyanaru, Batticaloa this afternoon. According to the police sources, two Chinese nationals of the company also among the dead.

The incident has reportedly occurred when the two Chinese nationals arrived at the location by a double cab to unload the explosives from the containers. One container has blown itself up due to an unknown reason and the rest have exploded due to the sympathetic detonation.

The Company is engaged in construction of a highway in the Eastern Province and the explosives were brought for industrial purposes. According to the sources, the containers were parked at the Karadiyanaru Police station premises for security reasons.

The injured were rushed to the Batticaloa hospital and some of them are in critical condition, sources further added.

Police sources confirmed that the blast to be an industrial accident that has no relation any criminal activity.