YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A fire followed by several explosions engulfed state warehouses and neighboring homes in Myanmar's main city of Yangon on Thursday, killing at least 17 people and injuring 108.
The blasts occurred as firefighters were putting out the fire that had started in a state-owned warehouse before spreading to other warehouses and nearby homes and buildings before dawn.
Six of the dead were firefighters, a home ministry source said. He did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
He added the fire and blasts destroyed 16 warehouses, a Buddhist monastery and 76 homes in Mingalar Taung Nyunt township in eastern Yangon.
A total of 108 injured people were brought to Yangon General Hospital, said a senior nurse. The nurse did not want to be identified because she is not authorized to speak to the media.
"Many of the dead were hit by flying debris of broken walls and stone slabs that were flung on to the streets due to the explosions," Maung Win, a 45-year-old resident, told the Associated Press.
The explosions rocked the entire city, jolting residents from sleep. A 20-foot (6-meter) -wide and 15-foot (4.5-meter) -deep crater was visible at the site. Black smoke was seen billowing from the rubble Thursday morning.
Firefighters were searching for bodies from among the debris.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, but the home ministry official said the explosions were due to chemicals, including ammonia and potassium nitrate, stored in one of the warehouses.
Residents said the fire started in a warehouse that stored electronic goods then spread to other warehouses and houses.