It turned out to be a black Sunday for Kerala. In a major and tragic fire mishap in Kerala that shook the entire nation pressing the prime minister to react immediately, as many as 109 people were killed and 380 others injured. The explosion took place at the Puttingal Devi temple during a festival at Paravoor at around 3 am on Sunday morning.
As the temple festival was going on, fireworks display had commenced at the temple precincts since midnight and about one thousand people had gathered to take part in the celebrations and watch the show, which met a tragic end. As the fireworks and pyrotechnics display was coming to a close at 3am, an explosion is suspected to have occurred at the storeroom ‘Kambapuram’ filled with fire crackers and pyrotechnics materials, the police said.
Speaking to media, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said ,”We have ordered a judicial enquiry on the temple tragedy, will get the report within 6 months.”
“We have adequate medical facilities to cater the current need. We have also asked the family of the injured to tell us in which hospital do they want their relatives to be treated, we will try and do the needful,” Chandy said.
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.
Top officials of the Puttingal Devi temple in Kerala have reportedly gone missing after an illegal fireworks show, police sources said.
The police have registered a case of culpable homicide against senior temple officials. A case has also been registered against the father-son duo of Surendran and Umesh who had organised the fireworks display. Both are being treated at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.
Residents said the incident occurred when a live cracker fell onto a godown filled with high-intensity fireworks. The explosives, worth Rs 10 lakh, were meant for a fireworks competition between two religious groups to celebrate the start of the local Hindu New Year.
A resident close to the temple told that till last year the fireworks display involved a competition between two groups.
“This time permission was not granted but a pamphlet circulated on Saturday mentioned prizes for the best fireworks show,” said the resident, who did not want to be identified by name.
According to him, the fireworks would normally begin to be exploded around 10.30pm the previous night, by when all rituals associated with the temple get over and the shrine is closed for the night.
Elephants are part of the temple celebrations but these are moved out of the area before the firecrackers are exploded.
Burnt clothes, slippers and body parts lay strewn across the place. A lone stray dog could be seen struggling to make a meal of a half-burnt human body slumped against a wall.