A man carrying empty fireworks shells walks past wreckage after the inferno at the Puttingal temple complex in the state of Kerala. Photo / AP
A huge fire broke out during a fireworks display in a south Indian temple, killing more than 100 people and injuring at least 200 more.
The blaze started when a spark from a fireworks show ignited a separate batch of fireworks stored at the Puttingal temple complex in Paravoor village, a few hours north of Kerala’s state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, said State Home Minister Ramesh Chennitala.
Thousands of people had been packed into the temple complex when a big explosion erupted about 3am. The blaze then spread quickly through the temple, trapping devotees within.
At least 100 people were killed, police told the BBC.
Local television channels broadcast images of huge clouds of white smoke billowing from the temple, as fireworks were still going off in the night sky. Successive explosions from the building storing the fireworks sent huge chunks of concrete flying as far as a kilometre, according to one resident, Jayashree Harikrishnan.
Firefighters had brought the blaze under control by last night NZT.”Huge pieces of concrete were flying through the air. Chunks landed in our yard,” she said.
Rescuers were sifting through the wreckage in search of survivors, while backhoes were clearing the debris and ambulances ferried the injured to nearby hospitals.
Every year, the temple holds a competitive fireworks display, with different groups putting on successive light shows for thousands of devotees gathered for the last day of a seven-day festival honouring the goddess Bhadrakali, a southern Indian incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali.
This year’s competition was happening without permission, after the state’s High Court banned competitive light shows at temples.
State Labour Minister Shibu Baby John said incident would be investigated, and the victims would be compensated.