Explosions rock India’s Kollam as celebratory fireworks turn into tragedy


Kollam
Fireworks spark explosions in Indian. [Photo/bbc.com]

A fire swept through a temple in India’s southern Kerala state on Sunday (April 10) killing 100 people and injuring more than 380 during a fireworks display to mark the start of the local Hindu New Year.

The blaze started when a cracker fell onto a shed where the fireworks were stored, sparking powerful explosions that blew the roof of the administrative block of the Puttingal Devi temple, and caused another building to collapse, residents said

Video shot by Renjith Easwar, one of the witnesses who was at the scene with his family and friends, shows a string of explosions rip through the temple complex at about 3:10 a.m. (2140 GMT April 9).

The Puttingal Devi temple is about 70 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram in the coastal district of Kollam.

Kerala is studded with temples managed by rich and powerful trusts that often flout local regulations. Each year temples hold fireworks displays, often competing to stage the most spectacular ones, with judges who decide the winners. However, fireworks are banned in the district of Kollam.

Witnesses said they had repeatedly warned the local administration about the danger of firework displays in the crowded neighbourhood. Authorities said a case for illegal possession of explosives had been registered against the temple.

The temple trust was not immediately available for comment.

The temple is one of the oldest in the state. It was built on the site of an ant hill where locals believe a goddess appeared centuries ago.

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