: Indian temple fire kills more than 100

13:19 Apr. 10, 2016

Indian temple fire kills more than 100

Man walks carrying empty shells of fireworks past a collapsed building after a massive fire broke out during a fireworks display at the Puttingal temple complex in Paravoor village, north of Thiruvananthapuram, southern Kerala state, India, April 10, 2016

Blaze was triggered by fireworks display to mark the start of the local Hindu new year

A huge fire swept through a temple in India's southern Kerala state early on Sunday (April 10), killing more than 105 people gathered for a fireworks display to mark the start of the local Hindu new year according to local media. Over 250 are injured, according to the local media.

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Thousands of people had packed into the Puttingal Devi temple and the narrow lanes around it. The fireworks display began at midnight and went on for hours.

One of the crackers then fell on a shed where the fireworks were stored, setting off an explosion and the fire, local television reported.

The explosion was so strong that some parts of the temple roof caved in. Local media showed bulldozers trying to clear the area of the debris.

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The temple is located in Kollam district, about 70 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would be flying to the temple site later on Sunday (April 10).

The state interior minister said all was being done to help the victims and their relatives.

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"The families of the deceased will be provided financial assistance and the injured will be given free treatment by the government. The Chief Secretary has written to Election Commission seeking permission to provide financial assistance to the victims. The government is doing its best," said Ramesh Chennithala.

Kerala is in the midst of an election for a new state assembly as politicians wrangled over the cause of the fire.

Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party trails its rivals - the Congress party and the communists. It has focused on building up grassroots strength in the state for decades.

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Chandy said the Kollam district administration had denied the temple authorities permission to carry out the fireworks display, and that the government will investigate how they went ahead.

Kerala is studded with temples, managed by rich and powerful trusts that often flout local regulations. Each year temples carry out fireworks displays, often competing to stage the most spectacular ones.

Reporting by REUTERS

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