(Adds Al Jazeera report on 17 dead, Al Arabiya saying 16 dead)
RAJMA, Libya, March 4 (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi bombed an arms depot on the outskirts of Libya’s second city of Bengahzi in the east of the country, Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebel February 17th Coalition, told Reuters.
Al Jazeera television reported 17 people had been killed in the raid on the arms depot at Rajma near Benghazi. Al Arabiya put the death toll at 16.
The area around was cordoned off by rebel security forces, a Reuters witness said. There was a heavy smell of smoke and at least eight ambulances were seen ferrying casualties away from the scene.
“A lot of people have been killed. There are many people in the hospital. No one can approach, It’s still very dangerous,” said a resident who would only identify himself as Saleh.
He said he did not know what had caused the fire.
Another resident, who identified himself as Miftah, said that a fire engine was destroyed by the conflagration and houses collapsed nearby.
It was one of biggest weapons dumps in Benghazi region. The resident said, who works at a power station nearby, said windows were broken by the explosion several km (miles) away. “The fire is still raging and we fear more explosions,” Miftah said. (Reporting by Tom Pfeiffer, editing by Peter Millership/Tom Perry)