At least 103 dead, 350 injured in India temple fire

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Themorningbellbd.com desk, April 10: Over 100 people have been killed and 350 injured in a massive fire that broke out during a fireworks display at the Puttingal temple in Kerala’s Kollam district early this morning.

The fire started around 3:00 am at a ground next to the temple packed with 10,000 to 15,000 people watching an all-night fireworks display.

Officials said a spark ignited a stack of fireworks stored in preparation for the New Year festival of Vishu on Thursday in the coastal town 60 km from Thiruvananthapuram.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the temple had defied orders not to allow “competitive fireworks”, which are a tradition during the seven-day festival of Goddess Kali.The fire broke out in the ground next to the temple.

The permission for a competitive display of fireworks had been denied by officials.

“A spark from the crackers being burst fell into the stack of crackers kept in a makeshift compartment at the ground, triggering the fire. The space was an open ground,” a police official said.

A police case has been registered against temple authorities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading to the site with a team of burn specialists and has asked the state government not to stand on ceremony for his visit.

Television footage showed huge clouds of white smoke billowing from the temple, as fireworks went off in the night sky. Successive explosions from the building storing the fireworks sent huge chunks of concrete flying as far as a kilometer according to a witness. The explosion from the fireworks was so strong that some parts of the temple roof caved in.

The fire broke out in the ground next to the temple.

Three naval ships, a Dornier aircraft and two Chetak helicopters have joined rescue efforts.

The injured have been taken to 10 hospitals and according to Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, “all necessary arrangements have been made in Ernakulam and Trivandrum.” The Government Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram sent out an appeal for blood donors.

The Chief Minister tweeted that his government had asked the Election Commission for permission to help those affected in the middle of an election.

Source: Agencies

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