(Adds injuries and how blast occurred, paragraphs 4-8)
By Victoria Cavaliere
Aug 20 Eight people were injured, one of them
seriously, after an explosion and fire struck a U.S. Navy
ammunitions depot near the New Jersey shore on Tuesday, Navy
Fire trucks, ambulances and a medical emergency helicopter
rushed to Naval Weapons Station Earle, located near Colts Neck
Township, about 45 miles (70 km) from Manhattan. The cause of
the explosion at a Marine boat repair shop at about 9 a.m. EDT
(1300 GMT) was being investigated.
"The damage from the explosion was contained within the
boathouse area. Ammunition and ordnance operations at the
weapons station were not affected by the accident," the Navy
said in a statement.
The injured included seven sailors and one civilian, said
base spokesman Mike Brady.
One of the injured was seriously hurt and taken by medical
helicopter to a local hospital for treatment, though the type of
injuries sustained were still unknown, he said. The seven others
suffered minor injuries, including smoke inhalation.
The explosion occurred during routine maintenance on a
35-foot utility boat and the blast ripped apart both the vessel
and much of the adjoining building, Brady said.
A base firehouse is located next door to the boat repair
shop and was able to respond "almost immediately," he said.
Brady said the stores of ammunition on the base are kept in
an area separate from where boats are serviced and the explosion
posed no threat to the adjoining community.
The base, which has a workforce of 1,500 people, has several
facilities located in Colts Neck and surrounding towns,
according to the U.S. Navy website. It serves as the
"operational support base for five Military Sealift Commands
combat logistics ships," according to the website.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick,
Jeffrey Benkoe and Bernard Orr)