Colombo: Three containers packed with explosives for highway construction blew up inside a police station in eastern Sri Lanka, killing 25 people, most of them policemen and two Chinese contractors, in what military said was an accidental blast.
Initially, the Lankan authorities had put the toll in the blast at 62, but later military spokesman Udaya Medawalla said that only 25 bodies had been recovered.
The spokesman said that 52 people were wounded in the blast at the Karadiyanaru which reduced the police station, where explosives were stored, to a rubble.
Pictures on local TV showed the walls of the police station having collapsed into piles of rubble with the twisted wreckage of the trucks in the background.
The blast was so loud it could be heard for miles and was the biggest explosion in the area since government troops routed the Tamil Tigers in May last year after a 30-year bloody insurgency.
The blast occurred at a site "where the explosives were kept for safety”, the military said. Most of those killed were policemen.
The explosives that detonated were meant for road construction in the region and belonged to a Chinese company, Medawalla said.
The blast occurred when the workers from the Chinese company were shifting the explosives kept in containers to a vehicle, he said.
Officials said that the injured have been admitted to Batticaloa hospital.
Two Chinese workers of the construction company had come to the police station in a double cab and two dump trucks to take explosives from containers, the Defence Ministry said on its website quoting unnamed sources.
One of the dump trucks exploded accidentally and due to the detonation all the containers blew up, it said.
The explosives were to be used for highway construction and the containers were kept at the Karadiyanaru police station premises, the ministry said.
It said some of the injured were in critical condition.
There was no sabotage or terrorist activity behind the explosion, which occurred solely because of accidental detonation, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yang Xiuping, condoled the death of two Chinese contractors, who died in the accident.
She told Xinhua news agency that two Chinese diplomats have been dispatched to investigate the cause of the blast.