Lanka orders probe to find out if blast caused by lapse

Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered a full-fledged inquiry into the incident as the toll from the blast mounted to 26 which included 16 policemen and two Chinese contractors.

Rajapaksa who is currently on a visit to the United States has asked Inspector General of Police Mahinda Balasuriya and the acting Defence Secretary Lalith Weeratunge to conduct an immediate inquiry into the accidental explosion.

The President also offered his condolences to the families of those killed and injured in the blast.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the blast rose to 26 with one more person succumbing to his injuries. Over 50 persons also suffered injuries with many admitted to the Batticaloa hospital.

The probe will look into if the huge quantities of explosives were stored properly as per the prescribed norms or whether the dynamite and detonators were piled up together which could have led to the blast.

Officials said the site was being cleared to see if any more people were trapped in the debris or in the wreckage of vehicles.

The blast created a ten metre deep crater at the Karadiyanaru police station in Batticaloa, where the dynamite meant for blasting road site had been stored.

Bomb blasts were a common phenomenon in the island nation during the 30-years of insurgency by the Tamil Tigers, which was eradicated after the decisive defeat of the LTTE nearly a year ago.

But, the military has ruled out any sabotage in the blast.

"We completely rule out sabotage. There is no threat to security in that area," a military spokesman said.

Officials said a special CID (Criminal Investigation Department) team has also been appointed to investigate the matter.

They said government is also working on a compensation package for the next of the kin of those killed in the accident.

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