Kollam: At least 102 people were killed and several others injured when an explosion took place at the Puttingal Devi temple during a festival at Paravoor here at around 3 AM today, police said.
As the temple festival was on, fireworks display had commenced at the temple precincts since midnight and hundreds of people had gathered to watch the show.
State police, state disaster management teams and fire brigade are on the spot for rescue and relief operations. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and assured all central help to deal with the situation arising out of the tragedy.
National Disaster Response Force is being sent to Kerala to assist the local administration. “My heartfelt condolences to the families of those who died in the Kollam mishap. My prayers are with the injured,” Singh said.
As the fireworks and pyrotechnics display was coming to a close at 3 AM, an explosion is suspected to have occurred at the storeroom ‘Kambapuram’ filled with crackers and pyrotechnics materials, police said.
Men, women and police officials are among the dead, they said. Fifty of the injured have been rushed to Trivandrum Medical College in the state capital and five persons died after being brought there.
Nearly 450 people got injured in the mishap and have been admitted to various hospitals in the district and nearby Thiruvananthapuram, police said.
State Health Minister V S Sivakumar said directives have been issued to hospital authorities to make necessary arrangements for the injured. State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said Director General of Police (DGP) Senkumar is monitoring the rescue operations.
“A comprehensive probe will be conducted into the incident. Adequate compensation would be given to the victims of the accident after consulting with the Election Commission,” Chennithala said.
Local media reports quoting Kollam district authorities say the temple authorities ignored warnings issued against holding a huge firework in the area vulnerable to such accident.
District Collector Shinamol, who visited the spot, said evacuation and rescue operations were going on full-swing. People trapped in the concrete structure, which was completely destroyed in the mishap, were taken out, police said.
Eye witnesses told television channels that the accident took place at 3.30 am. The sound of the explosion in the store-room was heard in around two-km radius of the temple, they said.