Indian temple fire claims more than 100 lives
NEW DELHI (92 News) – A massive fire swept through a temple in India’s southern Kerala state on Sunday, killing more than 100 people and injuring more than 250 who had gathered for a fireworks display to mark the start of the local Hindu new year.
Thousands of devotees had packed into the Puttingal Devi temple in the coastal district of Kollam. The fireworks display began at midnight and went on for hours.
The fire started when one of the crackers fell onto a shed where the fireworks were stored, said residents near the temple site, about 70 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
One of the crackers then fell on a shed where the fireworks were stored, setting off an explosion and the fire, local television reported. The state’s Home Minister, Ramesh Chennithala, said firefighters and police worked during the night to douse the fire and take the injured to hospital. “Now the situation is under control … the police are on the spot,” he said.
The Kerala Government ordered an inquiry into the cause of the disaster. Television footage showed a series of large explosions and plumes of smoke rising into the night air, as well as injured arriving at local hospitals. The explosion from the fireworks was so strong that some parts of the temple roof caved in. Local media showed bulldozers trying to clear the area of the debris.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew to Kollam with a team of doctors to help state authorities cope with the large number of injured people, moving swiftly to pre-empt criticism over lack of public safety.