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At least 110 kiled in explosion during fireworks display at temple in Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram, April 10, 2016
India temple fire kills over 100 people watching fireworks
At least 110 people died and more than 300 others suffered injuries in a massive explosion that occurred during a fireworks display at the Paravur Puttingal Devi temple in Kollam district of Kerala in the early hours today.
Many of the injured, admitted to various hospitals in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram, were stated to be in a serious condition.
The explosion was so powerful that a building in the temple premises collapsed and its impact was felt within a one kilometre radius.
State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the victims were rushed to 12 hospitals in Kollam and nearby areas, while some of the more serious cases were referred to the Medical College Hospital at Thiruvananthapuram.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew to state capital Thiruvananthapuram on his way to the scene of the tragedy this afternoon. He is accompanied by a team of burns specialists from the Ram Manohar Lohia, Sajdarjung and other hospitals in the capital.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi was also scheduled to visit the spot late this afternoon, official sources said.
The Kerala Cabinet held a special meeting in Kollam this afternoon to consider the situation.
Mr. Chandy told newspersons that an ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh would be given to the next-of-kin of those who died in the tragedy. He said Rs. 2 lakh would be given to those with serious injuries and Rs. 50,000 to those with minor injuries.
“Since the model code of conduct is in place, the Chief Secretary has spoken to the Election Commission for clearances regarding the compensation to be awarded,” Mr Chennithala said.
Kollam District Administration said it had denied permission to the temple authorities for carrying out fireworks display. However, police said a conditional permission to carry out minor fireworks was obtained. Police have registered cases against two contractors who supplied the explosives and also against the temple administration.
Mr. Chandy said a judicial inquiry would be held to establish the cause of the mishap. It would be headed by a retired judge of the Kerala High Court.
He also announced that the State Government would meet all expenses on the treatment of the injured persons.
The case related to the incident has been transferred to the Crime Branch of the Kerala Police and would be supervised by the Additional Director General of Police (Crime Branch).
Mr. Modi announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs. 2 lakh each from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the incident. He also announced a solatium of Rs. 50, 000 to those who suffered injuries.
"Fire at temple in Kollam is heart-rending and shocking beyond words. My thoughts are with families of the deceased and prayers with the injured," Mr. Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
"Spoke to CM Oommen Chandy about the fire at a temple in Kollam. Arranging for immediate shifting of those critically injured via helicopter.
"Have also asked my Cabinet colleague and Health Minister JPNadda to immediately reach the site of the fire tragedy in Kollam," he said.
According to various accounts, the explosion was caused when the storehouse where the fireworks materials were stored caught fire around 3.30 am today. One version said sparks from the fireworks display landed on the storehouse, leading to the fire.
The fireworks were organised as part of the annual festival of the temple, near Kollam.
Many of the victims died before they could be taken to a hospital, sources said.
The State Government had made arrangements for air ambulances and helicopters to fly the injured persons to hospitals.