Kerala temple fire: 106 killed, 383 injured, CM orders judicial probe

106 killed, 383 injured in Kerala temple fire

Kollam (PTI): In one of the worst tragedies to hit Kerala, at least 106 people were killed and 383 injured in a devastating fire that engulfed the 100-year-old Puttingal Devi Temple complex near here during an unauthorised display of fireworks early today.

A late night statement issued by the Chief Minister’s office said 106 people had lost their lives in the incident that left 383 others with injuries.

A judicial probe by a retired High Court Judge was ordered by the state government along with an investigation by Crime Branch into the tragedy, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced after an emergency Cabinet meeting over the tragedy.

The tragedy struck around 3.30 AM during display of fireworks at the temple complex, which is around 70 kms from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

The fireworks, for which no permission had been granted by Revenue and police officials, had started at midnight as part of an annual festival and thousands of people had gathered to witness it.

The mishap occurred as sparks of the fireworks fell on the store room ‘Kambapura’ and the fire crackers kept there exploded with a deafening noise, police said.

The blaze spread quickly trapping the devotees within the complex. Charred bodies and human remains were strewn around the temple complex after the fire tragedy. “It was complete chaos,” eyewitnesses said.

The explosions also ripped chunks of concrete and plaster from the temple and nearby buildings which fell on people killing some on the spot and wounding many others.

The official statement said 75 bodies have been identified and 84 post-mortems had been conducted. Scientific examination would be done to identify bodies which have not yet been claimed, Chandy said.

Chandy also announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh to kin of each of those killed in fire tragedy, Rs 2 lakh for seriously injured and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who termed the incident as “heart-rending” and “shocking”, announced Rs two lakh each as compensation for the next of the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 each for the injured. He later flew in here and took stock of the situation and see the injured people.

The sound of the explosion could be heard over a radius of one kilometre and the whole area plunged into darkness as the power supply went off and people ran helter-skelter, eyewitnesses said.

The Chief Minister said the District Collector of Kollam had not given permission to conduct the fireworks. 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.

Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said, “Actually, it is not a police failure,” on being asked why police had not stopped the fireworks since it was not permitted.

“When lakhs of people are assembled here, if there is police action, it will have another problem. So, we have to consider all these aspects<” he said.

Police sources said a case has been registered against temple authorities and explosive licencees under section 307 (Attempt to murder), and 308 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide) of IPC and under section 4 of Explosives Substances Act.

Kerala temple fire: Over 100 killed; 383 injured, Chandy orders judicial probe

Kollam, Apr 10, 2016, PTI: In one of the worst tragedies to hit Kerala, over 100 people were killed and 383 injured in a major fire that engulfed the 100-year-old Puttingal Devi Temple complex near here during a display of fireworks, for which no permission had been granted by the authorities.

A judicial probe by a retired High Court Judge was ordered by the state government along with an investigation by Crime Branch into the tragedy, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced after an emergency Cabinet meeting over the tragedy.

Chandy, who had earlier put the death toll at 102, told reporters after the meeting that as per the latest figures, 100 people have died and 383 persons were injured. The injured have been admitted to various hospitals, he said.

At least 60 bodies have been identified. Post-mortem will be held as early as possible and bodies handed over to the relatives without any delay, he said. Scientific examination would be done to identify bodies which have not yet been claimed, he said.

Chandy also announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh to kin of each of those killed in fire tragedy, Rs 2 lakh for seriously injured and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who termed the incident as “heart-rending” and “shocking”, announced Rs two lakh each as compensation for the next of the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 each for the injured. He later rushed here to personally take stock of the situation and see the injured people.

The tragedy struck around 3.30 AM during display of fireworks at the temple complex, which is around 70 kms from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

The display, for which no permission had been granted by Revenue and police officials, had started at midnight as part of an annual festival and thousands of people had gathered to witness it.

The mishap occurred as sparks of the fireworks fell on the store room ‘Kambapura’ and the fire crackers kept there exploded with a deafening noise, police said.

The sound of the explosion could be heard over a radius of one kilometre and the whole area plunged into darkness as the power supply went off and people ran helter-skelter, eyewitnesses said.

Charred bodies and human remains were strewn around the temple complex after the fire tragedy. The Chief Minister said the District Collector of Kollam had not given permission to conduct the fireworks.

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.

Police sources said a case has been registered against temple authorities and explosive licencees under section 307 (Attempt to murder), and 308 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide) of IPC and under section 4 of Explosives Substances Act.

The Centre rushed the Chief Controller of explosives safety organisation PESO to check if there was illegal usage of crackers or explosives at the temple in Kollam.

Meanwhile, the 15-member temple committee, which was in the precincts, when the mishap occurred, went missing soon after the incident, local people told PTI.

As tragedy struck, a massive effort was launched to rescue the people from the inferno and shift the injured people to hospitals, with the Navy and the Air Force pressing into service six helicopters and one Dornier aircraft.

The sound of the explosion could be heard over a radius of one kilometre and the whole area plunged into darkness as the power supply went off and people ran helter-skelter, eyewitnesses said.

Raju, a local resident staying near the temple, said he heard a massive sound and saw a huge ball of fire.

A large number of people died when concrete chunks and iron grills from the structures fell on those who had gathered to watch the festivities, said another eyewitness Vijayan.

Girija, whose house is situated about a kilometre away from the temple, said she felt tremors soon after a massive explosion.

Chandy said the state government had sought permission from the Election commission in the morning for necessary sanction to exclude treatment facilities to the injured from the ambit of the Election Code of Conduct and it had been received in principle. “We will inform them of today’s decisions,” he said.

“Strong measures are needed to regulate such fireworks display and everyone should cooperate. This accident should be an eye-opener. Strong guidleines have to brought in and steps taken to ensure that it is implemented,” Chandy said.

Chandy promised best medical treatment to the injured people and said they would be shifted to whichever hospitals their relatives wanted. “The government will take care of all the medical expenses,” he said.

“The condition of some of the injured is stated to be very serious and the injured have been admitted to various hospitals in and around Kollam and in Thiruvananthapuram,” the Kerala Chief Minister said.

Karnataka government said it would send a 10-member medical team with drugs and blood to Kollam in Kerala to provide relief to victims of the tragedy.

Chandy said the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called him to express their grief over the tragedy and the central government has promised all help.

BJP National President Amit Shah cancelled all his public functions in Kerala today and has rushed to the Trivandrum Medical college to visit the injured. The Indian Airforce has launched relief operations to help transport the seriously injured.

IAF is making all out efforts to transport the victims as soon as possible to the nearby hospitals at Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram, according to a defence press release.

A total of 10 transport aircraft and helicopters have been pressed into service. All the aircraft have been deployed in Air Ambulance role to ferry victims to nearby hospitals.

National Disaster Response Force teams from Arakkonam near Chennai in Tamil Nadu and medical teams are also being brought to provide timely medical relief to the victims.

The Indian Navy has deputed three Naval ships — INS Kabra, Kalpeni and INS Sukanya with medical stores to Kollam coast to give medical assistance to the injured. It is also deploying one Dornier and two ALH with medical teams from the southern naval command.

Major fire at Puttingal Devi temple leaves over 100 dead

Kollam (PTI): Over 100 people were killed and 350 injured when a major fire broke out in the Puttingal Devi Temple complex at nearby Paravoor early today when sparks emanating from a fireworks display ignited a store room filled with crackers and pyrotechnic material.

Thousands of people had gathered at the temple precincts to witness the fireworks display which were on since midnight when the fire broke out.

temple-fire-kerala-20160410

The mishap occurred as sparks fell on the storeroom ‘Kambapura’ and exploded with a deafening noise at around 3.30 AM, police said.

The sound of the explosion could be heard over a km radius and the whole area plunged into darkness as the power supply went off and people ran helter skelter, eyewitnesses said.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he has been informed by the state health minister that the death toll has gone beyond 90. Chandy said he has asked the Prime Minister to provide two helicopters at Kollam to ferry the seriously injured.

“The condition of some of the injured is stated to very serious and the injured have been admitted to various hospitals in and around Kollam and in Thiruvananthapuram,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that the district collector of Kollam had not given permission to conduct the fireworks.

Police sources said a case has been registered against temple authorities and explosive licencees under section 307 (Attempt to murder), and 308 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide) of IPC and under section 4 of Explosives Substances Act.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Rs two lakh each as compensation for the next of the kin of the dead in the mishap and Rs 50,000 each for the injured in the tragedy. The Prime Minister, who is rushing to Kerala to take stock of the situation, termed the incident as “heart-rending” and “shocking”.

“Fire at temple in Kollam is heart-rending & shocking beyond words. My thoughts are with families of the deceased & prayers with the injured,” he said in a tweet.

The Prime Minister has also asked Health Minister J P Nadda to reach the site of the mishap. Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who visited the spot, said 40 bodies have been identified.

A special cabinet meeting will be held at Kollam at 3 PM today to take stock of the situation, he said, adding the priority is to provide help to the injured at the earliest. The Prime Minister is taking a team of doctors specialising in treating burn injuries along with him.

Modi will be directly landing in the town where the mishap took place. All protocol including the Governor and the Chief Minister receiving the Prime Minster at the helipad has been waived.

Modi has directed IAF and Navy to divert all helicopters in the command for ferrying injured to major hospitals in nearby cities.

Chandy said the Prime Minister and the Home Minister contacted me over telephone. “I requested both of them, we really want two helicopters to shift the serious patients to Thiruvananthapuram from Kollam.

“Now rescue operations are over and we are concentrating on giving the best treatment to all the persons admitted in the hospitals. So we are giving assistance to private hospitals and all the expert doctors have been asked to join duty because Sunday possibly they are on leave,” he said.

Union Health Minister J P Nadda said, “The incident is very shocking and tragic. I am rushing to the spot….The injured are being taken to hospitals of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.

“Team of 15 doctors of Safdarjung and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital are put in service. They are coming to Kerala. We are also sending medicines from Delhi and at the same time we are ensuring there should be no shortage of medicine as well. Team of doctors will reach by the afternoon,” Nadda said.

Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, “It is very unfortunate. More than 50 people died on the spot”. “Now situation is under control, the Director General of Police is on the spot and coordinating all the rescue operation. “The fire is under control. Fire force and police are coordinating the rescue operation and,” the Home Minister said.

Kerala temple fire heartrending, shocking: PM Modi

New Delhi (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday described the fire at Kerala temple that killed 86 people as “heartrending and shocking”.

“Fire at temple in Kollam is heartrending and shocking beyond words. My thoughts are with families of the deceased and prayers with the injured,” Modi said in a tweet.

At least 86 people were killed in an accident on Sunday due to a firework display which caused a massive blaze at the Puttingal temple in the coastal town of Paravur located about 60 kms from the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram.

Several dead in Kerala temple fire

Thiruvananthapuram, April 10 (IANS) Several people died and scores were injured after firecrackers reportedly caused a massive fire at the Puttingal temple in the coastal town of Paravur, Kerala early on Sunday.

60 feared dead, over 200 hurt in Kerala temple fire

Thiruvananthapuram, April 10 (IANS) Sixty people were feared dead and over 200 injured after firecrackers reportedly caused a massive fire at the Puttingal temple in the coastal town of Paravur, Kerala early on Sunday.

Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the fire broke out at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday. He announced financial assistance to the dead and the injured and said judicial probe would be ordered soon.

The fire has been brought under control.

PM, other top leaders visiting Kerala temple accident site

Kollam (Kerala), April 10 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and other leaders will be arriving here on Sunday to visit the Paravur Puttingal temple where 96 people lost their lives following an accident caused by a firework display.

The temple is located in the coastal town of Paravur here in Kollam district, about 60 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

More than 350 people have been injured in the ghastly accident and being treated in 12 hospitals in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts.

Prime Minister Modi spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who is on his way to the accident site.

“I will be reaching Kerala soon to take stock of the situation arising due to the unfortunate fire tragedy in Kollam,” Modi tweeted.

The prime minister has announced Rs.two lakh each as compensation to the next of the kin of the dead and Rs.50,000 to the injured.

Governor of Kerala P. Sathasivam has expressed deep sense of sorrow, shock and concern over the tragic deaths in the accident.

“Such tragic incidents are also a grim reminder of the urgent need to adhere to safety measures during festivals,” Sathasivam said in a statement.

Chandy told IANS that an emergency cabinet meeting will be held at Kollam on Sunday afternoon to decide on how to go about the investigation into the tragedy and related matters.

The chief minister tweeted that he had asked the chief secretary to write to the Election Commission seeking permission to help the victims as it is election time in the state.

Rahul Gandhi spoke to Chandy and expressed grief over the tragedy.

Kerala’s Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told reporters at the accident site that the government is focussed on ensuring that all necessary help is provided to the victims who are suffering.

“On things like whether necessary permissions were obtained for the firework display and such issues will be dealt with when the cabinet meets later in the day at Kollam. Now our priority is to see all help is provided to the grieving,” said Chennithala.

The incident occurred around 3.30 a.m. on Sunday.

Speaking to IANS, Lallu S. Pillai, a journalist covering the temple festival for Asianet News TV, said it only took a few minutes for the disaster to take place.

“I was watching the event unfold about 150 metres from the terrace of my friend’s home. The firework display was about half an hour to finish when a spark of an already lit cracker landed in the concrete building that stored the high potency crackers. In few minutes, the building came crashing down and we felt the place shaking,” said Pillai.

“Then it was absolute chaos and pieces of concrete were scattered all over the place and some of it were found about 500 metres away in a taxi stand,” Pillai added.

Numerous homes within half a kilometre radius of the accident site have been damaged.

Thiruvananthapuram Medical College principal Thomas Mathew said about 100 people are being treated at the hospital.

“Forty five of them have been admitted and most of them are being treated for broken bones in their hands and legs. Eleven of them were brought dead, while another two died after reaching here,” said Mathew.

All the leading political parties have as a mark of respect cancelled all their election programmes for the day.

“We have asked our party workers to see that they provide all the help and solace to the victims,” CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters after visiting the injured in the hospital in the capital city.

The BJP has cancelled all the programme of its national president Amit Shah, who was to launch his party’s election campaign on Sunday at Pathanamthitta and is reaching the state capital to visit the injured.

The state Congress party president V.M. Sudheeran has asked his party workers to call off all election related work planned for Sunday.

The fire has been brought under control and heavy equipment machineries are now working to clear the debris.

Kollam Lok Sabha member N.K. Premachandran who visited the site demanded that all those who have been injured should be given free treatment with adequate compensation.

2 Comments

  1. It is really sad to see 100+ people dead and a few hundred folks with injuries. Is it shocking? Not at all. For many years now, Kerala temples and devotees were obsessed with over-the-top fireworks. Go to youtube and do a simple search – you will see what I am talking about.

    Firework can be entertaining and beautiful when it is done by professionals. However, most of these temple fireworks were nothing but an hour-long high decibel explosion right next to temples with almost no sense of safety. Again, no need to trust me – watch some of the videos posted on youtube from last year.

    I truly hope that kerala people wake up and take a serious look at this madness. We certainly don’t need loss of so many innocent folks.

Leave a Reply