What should have been a day of celebration at a south Indian temple turned into a disaster after an explosion occurred when a stockpile of fireworks ignited and immediately spread to the religious structure. According to authorities, more than 102 people were killed in the blaze and at least 350 injured in the incident which took place at the Paravur Puttingal Devi temple in Kollam district of Kerala.
The fire started at 03:30am IST (22:15 GMT Saturday) on 10 April when sparks from the fireworks display are believed to have ignited those that were in the stockpile. The fire later spread to the temple where preparations were on to celebrate the Malayalam New Year festival of Vishu which will take place on 14 April.
Once the fire engulfed the temple, it caused one of the buildings to collapse. Falling debris injured a number of people. There have also been reports of window panes of houses a kilometre away from the blast site shattering.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted a message on Twitter following the news stating: "Fire at temple in Kollam is heart-rending and shocking beyond words. My thoughts are with families of the deceased and prayers with the injured."
The government has announced medical and financial aid for the victims and their families.
Authorities pointed out that the temple was refused permission for the use of fireworks, citing safety norms and a notice issue on 9 April read: "It has become clear that it is not a fireworks display but a fireworks competition that will be held." Cases have now been registered by the local police against the fireworks organisers and the temple administration.
Locals residing near the temple have previously complained about the fireworks displays which caused damage to their houses and even obtained a stay order against bursting of crackers.