Temple fire kills 102 in India, over 350 injured

Puttingal temple fire

At least 102 persons were killed and over 350 injured after a fire broke out at the Paravur Puttingal Devi temple around 3:30 a.m on Sunday. The fireworks ceremony was held as part of the annual festival of the temple, near Kollam.

Over 100 victims are admitted to the district hospital in Kollam. Many of the injured died before they could reach a hospital. Victims were also admitted to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital and at various private hospitals in Kollam.

The explosion was caused when the storehouse of the fireworks materials caught fire. In the impact of the explosion, the office building of the Travancore Devaswom Board near the storehouse was blown off.

Sparks which flew from the fireworks on display landed on the storehouse and caused the explosion, preliminary reports say. There is a district level ban on pyrotechnics at temples but these are held on the basis of temporary permits annually. Such permits are given on religious tradition grounds.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala are visiting the scene. Rescue operations are being carried out under the direct supervisions of the State Police Chief, T.P. Senkumar.

The Prime Minister has announced ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each to next of kin of those killed in the incident. Photo: Suresh Kumar

Live updates:

10: 50 am: Surendran, the firework display contractor, succumbs to injuries from the explosion, hospital sources say.

10: 30 am: Two persons who had been admitted in the surgical ICU at Medical College hospital succumbed to their injuries, taking the total death toll at the hospital to 13. So far, 100 persons have been brought to the MCH in Thiruvananthapuram.

10: 20 am: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy says his cabinet will decide to clamp down on illegal firework display.

10: 15 am: Collectors order rejecting the application of the temple to hold a fireworks display on April 9 as “it has become clear that it is not a firework display but a fireworks competition that will be held”, and adding that action will be taken against those who break the order.

10: 00 am: The Prime Minister has announced ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each to next of kin of those killed in temple firework disaster; Rs. 50,000 for the injured.

09: 55 am: Death toll rises to 102.

09: 50 am: Emergency State Cabinet meeting to convened at 3 p.m. today to discuss the incident.

09: 45 am: Earlier in the day, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he will visit site at 11 a.m. today and decide on course of action. “I have asked Chief Secretary to approach Election Commission for permission to provide monetary relief to those affected,” he tweeted.

09: 30 am: Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala visits the disaster site in Kollam, says investigation is on.

09: 25 am: Raids conducted in the house of contractor Surendran, who supplied fireworks.

09: 15 am: The Medical College Hospital at Thiruvananthapuram is struggling to handle the influx of victims.

09: 10 am: Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan cancels poll campaign at Malampuzha in north Kerala, rushes to Kollam.

09: 00 am: More pictures are coming in from the site as authorities work to clear the debris.

08: 45 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Kerala to take stock of the situation.

08: 50 am Paravur Police register a case against organisers of the Puttingal Devi temple festival.

08: 50 am: Forensic experts begin investigation at firework disaster site at Kollam.

08: 40 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi terms firework disaster ‘heart rending’, says his heart is with the families of deceased and injured.

08: 30 am: Kerala government has sought helicopter support to transport the injured.

08: 27 am: Oommen Chandy speaks to Rajnath Singh; Centre offers all assistance to handle the disaster.

08: 25 am: Death toll likely to go up, official sources say.

08: 15 am: Many more are still feared to be trapped under the building brought down by the explosion.

-More at The Hindu



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