At least 86 people have been killed in a major fire at a temple in Paravoor in Kerala’s Kollam district on Sunday morning. Over 300 others have been injured in the tragedy that took place at Puttingal temple in Paravoor, said Kollam Assistant Commissioner of Police K Lalji.
The Kerala government has ordered a probe into the incident. It has also sought help from Indian Air Force to shift patients with third degree burns to Trivandrum or to Kochi. Four helicopters including Mi-17 and ALH from Sulur are being used to shift patients.
Police, disaster management teams and fire brigade are on the spot for rescue and relief work.
Sources said that the District Collector did not give permission to the temple authorities for fireworks display. Competitive fire display was also stayed after complaints from the local residents. The development raises questions over the safety measures taken by temple authorities.
Local media reports quoting Kollam district authorities said that the temple authorities ignored warnings issued against holding a huge firework in the area vulnerable to such accident.
Thousands of people had gathered at the temple precincts to witness the fireworks display which were on since midnight. The mishap occurred as sparks fell on the storeroom ‘Kambapura’ and exploded with a thundering noise at around 3.30 AM, police said.
The sound of the explosion could be heard over a kilometre radius.
The whole area plunged into darkness as the power supply went off and people ran helter skelter, eyewitnesses said.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is rushing to the accident spot after cancelling his programmes, said the situation was “unprecedented and alarming”.
“Rescue operation at the mishap spot is over…The next main focus of the government is to provide best treatment to the injured,” he said.
The fire has been brought under control.
Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said, “The fire broke out at 3:30 AM during celebration through fire crackers. I have asked the DGP to go to the spot and take stock of the situation. We will give financial assistance to victims. I am myself going to the spot.”
He said, “A judicial inquiry will be ordered. The Chief Minister is personally monitoring the relief and rescue operations.”
Many bodies have been charred and a DNA test would be conducted to ascertain the identity of the deceased.
The injured, most of them with burn injuries, have been rushed to various hospitals in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced Rs 2 lakh each as compensation to the next of the kin of the dead in Kollam temple fire; Rs 50,000 to those injured.
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