At least 17 people have been killed in a major fire that broke out at an army ammunition depot in Indias western state of Maharashtra. Around 19 others have been injured in the blaze, which began in the early hours of 31 May.

According to locals, an explosion occurred at Pulgaons Central Ammunition Depot (CAD) in Wardha district, sparking a large fire. According to India Today news channel, two officers and 15 junior soldiers from the Defence Security Corps were reported dead. Meanwhile, at least 1,000 people have been evacuated from surrounding villages.

CAD Pulgaon is one of the largest ammunition depots of the Indian army and it was being used to dispose of expired weapons. It was recently recognised for using solar power to manage part of the process.

The blaze at the original site has been put out, but fire fighters are still wary of any secondary fires that could occur as a result of the loose embers.

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh has already left to assess the situation in Pulgaon and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will also visit the site of the accident.

Similar fires have erupted at other ammunition depots across the country, the most recent in 2010 in eastern Panagarh. However there were no casualties reported.

In 2007 a fire at a depot in Kashmir injured at least 25 people and in 2000, two died in a similar fire in Bharatpur i the state of Rajasthan.