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Ecuador Army Base Blast Wounds 150

November 21, 2002

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QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ An ammunition storage site at Ecuador’s largest military base exploded Wednesday injuring scores of people, officials said.

Civil Defense Director Ricardo Avendano said police were evacuating people living near Galapagos Mechanized Base in the city of Riobamba, 100 miles south of Quito.

At least 150 people were treated for injuries, Red Cross spokeswoman Monica Menendez told The Associated Press. But there was no immediate word on the seriousness of wounds.

The explosion formed a ``cloud like a volcano,″ Rosendo Coba, a Red Cross volunteer from Riobamba told Guayaquil’s CRE radio.

Coba said the blasts caused a fire the engulfed some buildings.

Army Gen. Luis Aguas, a brigade commander in Quito, said ``it appears that ammunition exploded and this caused another strong explosion.″

Aguas said he did not have more details because communication with the Riobamba base had been cut off.

The majority of Ecuador’s tank units are located at the Riobamba base, which CRE radio reported is the home to about 1,500 soldiers.

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