Sri Lanka police say detonators stored with dynamite likely caused deadly explosion

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Improperly stored detonators are likely to have triggered a dynamite explosion that killed 25 people and injured dozens in eastern Sri Lanka, police said.

Three containers of explosives used for road construction exploded Friday inside a police compound, destroying the police station and a nearby agriculture office crowded with farmers.

A police officer involved in the investigation said Saturday the detonators were stored together with dynamite in one of the containers and may have been accidentally activated by a worker who was removing them for the day's work.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The dynamite, used to blast rock, was stored in the police compound for security reasons.

Two Chinese citizens and 16 police were among the dead. Fifty-two others were wounded in the blast.

The site of the blast, Karadiyanaru, a small town in eastern Sri Lanka, was a one-time stronghold of Tamil Tiger rebels responsible for hundreds of bomb blasts targeting the military and civilians during their quarter-century rebellion for an ethnic homeland.

The government has initiated a major construction drive there to build roads, reservoirs and other infrastructure following the defeat of the Tamil insurgency last year.