Fireworks tragedy kills 102 at Hindu temple
A Hindu temple in southern India was packed for a religious festival early yesterday when an unauthorised pyrotechnic display went horribly wrong.
Explosions and a massive fire swept rapidly through the Puttingal temple complex about 3am in the village of Paravoor, killing 102 people and injuring 380 others, officials said.
Scores of devotees ran in panic as the initial blast cut off power in the complex, while other explosions sent flames and debris raining down, a witness said. Many were trapped inside. "It was complete chaos," said Krishna Das of Paravoor. "People were screaming in the dark. Ambulance sirens went off, and in the darkness no one knew how to find their way out of the complex."
Mr Das said the first deafening explosion occurred as the fireworks display was about to end. It was followed by a series of blasts, he added.
The fire started when a spark from the fireworks show ignited a separate batch of fireworks that were being stored in the temple complex, said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the top elected official in Kerala state.
Most of the 102 deaths occurred when the building where the fireworks were stored collapsed, Mr Chandy told reporters. About 60 bodies have been identified so far, he added.
The temple holds a competitive fireworks show every year. This year, however, authorities had denied temple officials permission to hold the display.