India: Temple fire kills more than 100 in Kerala State

11th Apr 2016
India: Temple fire kills more than 100 in Kerala State

By Shuriah Niazi

 

NEW DELHI (AA) – At least 102 people have been killed in a massive fire that tore through a Hindu temple in India’s Kerala State on Sunday morning.

Another 380 people were injured in the conflagration, which occurred at the Puttingal Temple in Kerala’s coastal town of Paravur, according to local police officials.

The incident took place at around 3:30am as hundreds of worshippers gathered to celebrate a local Hindu New Year festival.

It is believed that the fire began when a number of fireworks being kept in the temple’s storeroom exploded prematurely.

The fire also caused a building in the temple complex to collapse, killing several people, according to media reports.

“Immediately after the explosion, the power supply was cut, plunging the entire area into darkness,” one eyewitness told a local news channel.

“We didn’t know what to do,” the witness added.

Local authorities had reportedly denied permission for the use of fireworks during this year’s festival after receiving complaints from area residents.

According to one local official, strict action will be taken against the temple’s administration for putting on a fireworks display without official approval.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media: “Rescue operations are over at the site. We’re currently making every effort to provide the injured with the best treatment.”

A number of the burn victims who were taken to hospitals in state capital Thiruvananthapuram are currently in critical condition.

“The death toll will likely rise further as we get reports from different hospitals to which the injured have been admitted for treatment,” said local official Oommen Chandy.

Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, for his part, has ordered a legal probe into the incident.

“Many bodies have been charred [beyond recognition],” he said. “It will be difficult to ascertain the identity of the deceased without conducting DNA tests.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently visiting the site of the tragedy, tweeted: “Fire at temple in Kollam is heartrending & shocking beyond words. My thoughts are with families of the deceased and prayers with the injured.”

Modi said that 200,000 rupees (roughly $3,000) would be paid to each of the families of those killed and 50,000 rupees (around $770) to the families of the injured.

 

[Photo: Puttingal temple festival is one of the main festivals happening in South Kerala every year. The fireworks competition of this temple is very famous, which is conducting on the final day of festival every year. Photograph: Arunvrparavur/Creative Commons]

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