KOLLAM: More than 100 people were killed around 350 others injured in an explosion during fireworks display at Puttingal temple in Kollam district of Kerala in the wee hours of Sunday.
According to eyewitnesses, a competitive display of fireworks was held as part of the temple festival. The fireworks triggered a spark which fell on a building that stored explosives, resulting in a huge explosion at around 3.30 a.m.
The impact of the explosion was so huge that it was felt in a radius of one kilometre from the temple. The building on the temple premises completely collapsed in the explosion.
The victims, mostly spectators who had gathered to see the fireworks display, were blown to pieces in the explosion. While some died due to injuries sustained in the building collapse, others were injured and killed in a stampede that followed the explosion.
Fireworks Display Was Illegal:
Kollam District Collector A Shainamol said the district administration had denied permission to the temple authorities for carrying out any sort of fireworks display. Though the fireworks started at 10 pm on Saturday and continued till 3 a.m. on Sunday, police allegedly took no action against the illegal activity.
In the wake of the mishap, police registered cases against the contractor who supplied the explosives and also against the temple administration. Even though local residents had complained about the impending fireworks display, they were allegedly silenced by the temple authorities.
PM Visits Kerala To Oversee Relief And Rescue:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the mishap site accompanied by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and took stock of the situation. Modi arrived from New Delhi on a special flight with a team of 15 medical professionals.The medical team included specialists in burn treatment from AIIMS.
Modi later visited the District Hospital in Kollam and spoke to the families of those injured. Health Minister J P Nadda has been asked to stay put in Kollam to coordinate relief operations. Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy was also present in Kollam to oversee the relief work.
The Prime Minister also interacted with the Kerala cabinet in Kollam guest house and discussed further relief measures. BJP president Amit Shah, who was in the state for a party function, visited the injured at Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, where majority of the victims have been admitted.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also visited the accident site and interacted with the family of the victims at Kollam District Hospital. He was accompanied by former Defence Minister A K Antony and KPCC president V M Sudheeran.
Probe Into Mishap, Compensation For Victims:
Earlier, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy chaired a special meeting of the state cabinet which ordered a judicial probe into the mishap. The probe will be completed in six months. Also, the case relating to the explosion, which has been registered at Paravoor police station, has been transferred to the Crime Branch.
Chandy has also announced a compensation of Rs four lakh to the next of kin of those killed and Rs 25,000 to the injured. The Centre will provide Rs two lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured.
Help from Religious Leaders, Philanthropists
The Mata Amritanandamayi Math announced that it would provide Rs one lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured. All injured survivors would be given free treatment at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi. Houses will be constructed for people whose dwellings were damaged in the tragedy, the Math said.
Middle East based entrepreneurs from Kerala, M A Yusuff Ali and B Ravi Pillai have also contributed their mite to the victims. While Yusuff Ali promised Rs one lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured, Ravi Pillai announced Rs one lakh for families of those killed and Rs 25,000 to the injured.
Actor Mammootty has offered help to the victims with medicines. In a Facebook post, Mammootty said that free ayurvedic medicines for burn victims would be provided by a firm called Pathanjali with which he is associated. Those in need of medicines can contact 9995424999 or 9645655890, the actor said.
Control Rooms have been opened to coordinate rescue oprations: 0474 2512344, 949760778, 949730869 (Kollam) and 0471 2528647 (Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram)
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