Kollam | In a huge tragedy, 105 people were killed and over 280 injured in a major fire that broke out in Puttingal Devi Temple complex near here in Kerala today during a display of fireworks for which there was no permission from the authorities.
Thousands of people had gathered at the temple precincts to witness the display of fireworks which was underway since midnight when the blaze erupted at around 3.30 AM, police said. The mishap occurred as sparks of the fireworks fell on the store room ‘Kambapura’ and the fire crackers kept there exploded with a deafening noise, police said.
The sound of the explosion could be heard over a radius of one kilometer and the whole area plunged into darkness as the power supply went off and people ran helter skelter, eyewitnesses said. In the huge blaze, 102 people perished and 280 were injured, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters.
A massive effort was launched to rescue the people from the inferno and shift the injured people to hospitals, with the Navy and the Air Force pressing into service six helicopters and one Dornier aircraft. The Chief Minister said the District Collector of Kollam had not given permission to conduct the fireworks.
The District Collector A Shainamol said no permission for any kind of fireworks was given. She said the temple authorities had asked for permission to conduct competitive fireworks which was denied. For normal fireworks, no permission was sought and hence there was no question of granting it, the DC said.
Police sources said a case has been registered against temple authorities and explosive licencees under section 307 (Attempt to murder), and 308 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide) of IPC and under section 4 of Explosives Substances Act.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who termed the incident as heart-rending and shocking, announced Rs two lakh each as compensation for the next of the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 each for the injured. He rushed to Kerala to take stock of the situation, carrying along with him a team of specialised doctors.
Fire works were kept in three different stock piles among which one of them were very close to Dewasom board. The people were standing in and around the temple area which lead to the high causality. The rescue operation is still going on.
Till now 100 kilos of fireworks have been located by the police officials. Thiruvananthapuram medical college had asked people to donate blood to the injured people. Fifty percent of the people have burn injuries now, but it is not only limited to burn injuries people have also stampede. It is said to increase more casualities.
A probe have been announced against the temple authority as they went against the order which had been earlier denied by the district magistrate.
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