Kerala temple fire: 86 dead, over 350 injured

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At least 86 persons were killed and over 350 injured after a fire broke out at the Paravur Puttingal Devi temple around 3:30 a.m on Sunday. The fireworks ceremony was held as part of the annual festival of the temple, near Kollam.

Over 100 victims are admitted to the district hospital in Kollam. Many of the injured died before they could be reach a hospital. Victims are also admitted to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital and at various private hospitals in Kollam.

The explosion was caused when the storehouse of the fireworks materials caught fire. In the impact of the explosion the office building of the Travancore Devaswom Board near the storehouse was blown off.

Sparks which flew from the fireworks on display landed on the storehouse and caused the explosion, preliminary reports say. There is a district level ban on pyrotechnics at temples but these are held on the basis of temporary permits annually. Such permits are given on religious tradition grounds.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala are visiting the scene. Rescue operations are being carried out under the direct supervisions of the State Police Chief, T.P. Senkumar.

Live updates:

09: 10 am: Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan cancels poll campaign at Malampuzha in north Kerala, rushes to Kollam.

08: 45 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Kerala to take stock of the situation.

08: 50 am Paravur Police register a case against organisers of the Puttingal Devi temple festival.

08: 50 am: Forensic experts begin investigation at firework disaster site at Kollam.

08: 40 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi terms firework disaster ‘heart rending’, says his heart is with the families of deceased and injured.

08: 38 am: The Election Commission has said that there will be no curb on providing assistance to victims.

08: 35 am: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh offered support to the government of Kerala in dealing with the tragedy.

08: 30 am:Kerala government has sought helicopter support to transport the injured.

08: 27 am: Oommen Chandy speaks to Rajnath Singh; Centre offers all assistance to handle the disaster.

08: 25 am: Death toll likely to go up, official sources say.

08: 20 am:

08: 15 am: Many more are still feared to be trapped under the building brought down by the explosion.

Photo: Ratheesh Kumar

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