Colombo: A fire that set off explosion at an army camp near Sri Lanka’s capital has been put out and killed a soldier on Monday. Explosions at the army camp at Salawa, 33 km east of the capital Colombo, continued for more than five hours on Sunday and were heard more than 12 km away, local residents said.
The cause was not immediately known and the government ordered an investigation by the police criminal investigation department.
Local television stations showed rocket propelled grenade (RPG) shells and shrapnel that had landed in the middle of a road.
"The fire started in a small arms store and spread. There were heavy weapons such as artillery shells stored in the proximity but the damage is still unknown," Sagala Ratnayake, minister of law and order, told media.
One soldier was killed and one injured in the blasts, an army spokesman said.
Sources from two nearby hospitals said at least five people were being treated for injuries. The soldier died on admission due to loss of blood, they said.
Pradeep Koddipily, spokesman for Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre, said residents living in a 5 km radius had been asked to evacuate immediately.
Thousands of people have already been evacuated fearing explosions.
Rohitha Fernando, chief operating officer at Colombo Fire Brigade, said firefighters could not reach the site due to the intensity of the explosions.
"None of the trucks has entered the camp as it's not safe to go inside. We have not handled this magnitude of armoury fire," he told Reuters.