India temple fire kills at least 100 people after fireworks display goes wrong

Authorities had been denied permission to hold a display or store fireworks

Matt Payton
Sunday 10 April 2016 09:24
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India fireworks explosion kills at least 100

At least 100 people have been killed and 240 injured after a fireworks display at an Indian temple complex went wrong.

Despite being banned by state authorities, the display went ahead in the village of Paravur in the district of Kollam in the Southern Indian state of Kerala.

The fire started when a spark from the pyrotechnics show ignited a separate batch fireworks that were being stored at the Puttingal temple complex.

Every year, a series of temples across Kerala compete with each other for the biggest fireworks display in celebration of the Hindu new year.

Thousands had were assembled in the temple complex when the big explosion happened at around 3am, according to officials.

The blaze then spread quickly through the temple, trapping devotees within.

Kerala Police Chief, TP Senkumar, told the BBC many of the dead were so charred they would have to be identified by DNA tests.

Krishna Das, a resident of Paravoor village, said he was walking away from the temple when the first explosion went off followed by a series of blasts.

He said: "I had been in the temple just a few minutes before watching the fireworks."

The rubble where the temple complex once stood

Witnesses say they saw people running away being chased by fire and chunks of concrete and plaster from the temple building.

Mr Das said that as soon as the first explosion was heard, a power outage hit the complex.

He added: "It was complete chaos. People were screaming in the dark. Ambulance sirens went off, and in the darkness no one knew how to find their way out of the complex."

An injured father carries his son to hospital for medical attention

Local villagers and police pulled out the injured from under slabs of concrete after the building where the fireworks were stored collapsed.

By morning, firefighters had brought the blaze under control, officials said. Rescuers were sifting through the wreckage in search of survivors, while backhoes were clearing the debris and ambulances driving away the injured.

Prime Minister Narenda Modi tweeted: "The fire at the temple in Kollam is heart-rending and shocking beyond words.

"My thoughts are with families of the deceased & prayers with the injured."

Kerala state's Chief Minister Oomen Chandy said the majority of the victims were trapped by the fire inside the temple complex.

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