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Live: 5 detained for Kollam temple fire tragedy in Kerala, death toll climbs to 112

Over 80 people were killed and others injured when an explosion took place at the Puttingal Devi temple during a festival at Paravoor in Kollam, Kerala.

Anshu Lal April 11, 2016 10:25:05 IST
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Live: 5 detained for Kollam temple fire tragedy in Kerala, death toll climbs to 112

Highlights

09:47 (ist)

Officials who had opposed the Kollam fireworks display were bullied

According to this report in Indian Express, Additional District Magistrate A Shanavas and District Collector A Shainamol, who were two of the officials who had denied permission for the fireworks display, were bullied and threatened by local politicians and Hindu groups.

What is worse is that communal slurs were used against the two officials, who are Muslims.

“Once the order was issued, it was vetted by Collector Shainamol, so the pressure started mounting on her. A senior minister called her to demand a change in her stand and asked whether she really wanted to upset religious sentiments of a section to which she does not belong. Local Hindu groups also used it against the ruling party, and eventually, police and politicians decided to make the fireworks happen despite a ban,” the report quoted an officer as saying.

09:26 (ist)

Death toll climbs to 112

According to The Times of India, the death toll has now risen to 112. The report further said that nearly 400 other people had been injured.

14:33 (ist)

Death toll rises to 110

According to Xinhua, the death toll in this tragedy has now climbed to 110.

12:22 (ist)

Here's what exactly happened at the temple

According to this report in The News Minute, a massive fireworks display takes place every year during Vishnu celebrations at the Puttingal temple in Kollam.

This old tradition is supposed to be a visual treat for the people and thousands of people gather at the temple every year to watch the fireworks.

The report added that it is not just a fireworks display but also a competition in which judges watch the fireworks and declare a winner every year.

This fireworks face-off takes place between two groups of people. "The competition is to see whose fireworks are more grand, the explosions louder and the sights magnificent," the report said.

The report added that between 3 and 3.30 am, one of th fireworks called 'amittu' fell on the ground and the sparks spread to other fireworks and caused an explosion.

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Apr 11, 2016 - 14:14 (IST)

"We have drawn some samples which will be sent for testing. We will be able to say what type of chemicals were used only after testing," Chief Controller Explosives Sudarshan Kamal said.

Apr 11, 2016 - 12:56 (IST)

Yechury meets injured

Sitharam Yechury met the injured and the families of the deceased and said that the state government should provide employment to the injured and the kin of the deceased.

"Monetary compensation is not enough. The state government should announce employment for the kin of victims so that they have some future," Yechury told reporters after meeting the victims.

"The guilty should be punished," he added. "The Prime Minister was here. I chose not to come here yesterday because the priority of the administration should be to provide relief. When that was over, I decided to come here," he said.

Yechury also said that this disaster "definitely merits to be considered a national calamity."

Apr 11, 2016 - 12:36 (IST)

'It is correct that we denied permission for fireworks display'

Apr 11, 2016 - 12:35 (IST)

Seven-member team inspects Kollam fire tragedy site

According to ANI, a seven-member team led by Chief Controller Explosives Sudarshan Kamal inspected the tragedy site.

Apr 11, 2016 - 12:28 (IST)

Families struggle to find their loved ones

After scouring six hospitals and three morgues, NP Anoop is no closer to finding his father who was caught in a massive blast and fire at an Indian temple that claimed more than 100 lives.

Like thousands of others, his father had gone on Saturday night to the Hindu temple in southern Kerala state, renowned for its beaches and tranquil backwaters, to see the annual fireworks display.

But in the chaotic hours after the explosion that ripped through the Puttingal Devi complex, the increasingly desperate 32-year-old could find no trace of his father, Vishwanathan, and feared the worst. 

"I don't know if he is alive or dead. All I want is to see him, we are ready for the worst but this search is painful," he told AFP after questioning ICU staff at a medical college hospital in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

"My father had gone to the festival with his friend. We were able to find the body of his friend but have yet to get any information on my father," the weary-looking Anoop said, before heading off to yet another hospital.

At hospitals, morgues and police stations, families are involved in a heartwrenching search for loved ones feared swept up in the blast that tore apart concrete buildings.

But the task is being made more difficult by the fact that some of the more than 100 people killed are unrecognisable. - AFP

Apr 11, 2016 - 10:50 (IST)

Detained organisers questioned by police

TV news reports said that the five organisers who had been detained by the police are now being questioned by them.

A case has been registered against 30 people, including the Puttingal temple board members, according to NDTV.

Apr 11, 2016 - 10:32 (IST)

Fire and rescue teams inspect tragedy site

ANI reports that fire and rescue teams are now inspecting the site of the tragedy which killed 112 people.

Apr 11, 2016 - 09:47 (IST)

Officials who had opposed the Kollam fireworks display were bullied

According to this report in Indian Express, Additional District Magistrate A Shanavas and District Collector A Shainamol, who were two of the officials who had denied permission for the fireworks display, were bullied and threatened by local politicians and Hindu groups.

What is worse is that communal slurs were used against the two officials, who are Muslims.

“Once the order was issued, it was vetted by Collector Shainamol, so the pressure started mounting on her. A senior minister called her to demand a change in her stand and asked whether she really wanted to upset religious sentiments of a section to which she does not belong. Local Hindu groups also used it against the ruling party, and eventually, police and politicians decided to make the fireworks happen despite a ban,” the report quoted an officer as saying.

Apr 11, 2016 - 09:26 (IST)

Death toll climbs to 112

According to The Times of India, the death toll has now risen to 112. The report further said that nearly 400 other people had been injured.

Apr 11, 2016 - 09:18 (IST)

Police inspecting tragedy site

Over 80 people were killed and several others injured when an explosion took place at the Puttingal Devi temple during a festival at Paravoor in Kollam at around 3 am on Sunday, police said.

As the temple festival was on, fireworks display had commenced at the temple precincts since midnight and hundreds of people had gathered to watch the show.

Live 5 detained for Kollam temple fire tragedy in Kerala death toll climbs to 112

Many people were killed after an explosion took place at the Puttingal temple in Kollam, Kerala. AP

As the fireworks and pyrotechnics display was coming to a close at 3 am, an explosion is suspected to have occurred at the storeroom 'Kambapuram' filled with crackers and pyrotechnics materials, police said.

Men, women and police officials are among the dead, they said.

Fifty of the injured have been rushed to Trivandrum Medical College in the state capital and five persons died after being brought there.

Nearly 200 people got injured in the mishap and have been admitted to various hospitals in the district and nearby Thiruvananthapuram, police said.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy termed as "unprecedented" and "alarming" the situation at the Puttingal Devi temple.

Chandy, who cancelled all his scheduled poll programmes, is on his way to the accident site.

"Rescue operation at the mishap spot is over...The next main focus of the government is to provide best treatment to the injured," he told PTI.

Asked about the death toll, the Chief Minister said the number would go up as reports are pouring in from different hospitals, where the injured have been admitted.

"This is an unprecedented and alarming situation," Chandy said.

The government would extend treatment facilities to the injured persons in the hospitals preferred by their relatives, he said.

The State Chief Secretary has been asked to write a letter to the Election Commission for necessary sanction to exclude the treatment facilities to the injured from the ambit of the Election Code of Conduct, he said.

State Health Minister VS Sivakumar said directives have been issued to hospital authorities to make necessary arrangements for the injured.

State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said Director General of Police (DGP) Senkumar is monitoring the rescue operations.

"A comprehensive probe will be conducted into the incident. Adequate compensation would be given to the victims of the accident after consulting with the Election Commission," Chennithala said.

Local media reports quoting Kollam district authorities say the temple authorities ignored warnings issued against holding a huge firework in the area vulnerable to such accident.

District Collector Shinamol, who visited the spot, said evacuation and rescue operations were going on full-swing. People trapped in the concrete structure, which was completely destroyed in the mishap, were taken out, police said.

Eye witnesses told television channels that the accident took place at 3.30 am.

The sound of the explosion in the store-room was heard in around two-km radius of the temple, they said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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