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India temple fire kills more than 100 worshipers at Hindu New Year event


India

India temple fire kills more than 100 worshipers at Hindu New Year event

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A huge fire has killed more than 100 people and injured over 200 others gathered for a fireworks display in India.

It happened in Kollam in the southern state of Kerala where worshipers had gathered for the event to make the start of the Hindu new year early on Sunday

State health workers said that local hospitals became overwhelmed with victims so many of the injured had to be driven to the state capital some 70 kilometers away.

Local television reported a firecracker fell on a shed where other fireworks were stored, setting off an explosion and the fire.

Television images showed people, some clutching children with burn injuries, being taken to hospitals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would be flying to the temple site later on Sunday.

“The fire at the temple in Kollam is heart-rending and shocking beyond words,” he said in a Twitter post. “My thoughts are with families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.”

Kerala is in the midst of an election for a new state assembly as politicians wrangled over the cause of the fire.

No permission

Kerala’s Chief Minister Oomen Chandy said the Kollam district administration had denied the temple authorities permission to carry out the fireworks display, and that the government will investigate how they went ahead.

“There was no permission to even store the fireworks,” he said.

Kerala is studded with temples, managed by rich and powerful trusts that often flout local regulations. Each year temples carry out fireworks displays, often competing to stage the most spectacular ones.

Kollam district magistrate A. Shainamol said people living in the neighbourhood of the temple had complained about the danger of these fireworks in the past.

The explosion from the fireworks was so strong that some parts of the temple roof caved in. Local media showed bulldozers trying to clear the area of the debris.

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