A fireworks display exploded during a festival at a temple in southern India early Sunday (10th April), killing around 100 people and injuring over 550 people.
Over 550 others were injured in the fire that engulfed the Kollam temple complex where hundreds had come together during the night for a festival celebrated in Kerala state marking the Hindu New Year.
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. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed shock at the disaster, and immediately visited Kollam, Kerala to “take stock of the situation”. “Fire at temple in Kollam is heart-rending & shocking beyond words. My thoughts are with families of the deceased & prayers with the injured,” the Indian PM tweeted.
The Kerala CM Chandy has announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh to kin of each of those killed and Rs 2 lakh for seriously injured. The Kerala government has also ordered an inquiry into the cause of the fire. Fires and stampedes are common at temples and during religious occasions, often because of poor security arrangements, shoddy infrastructure, poor upkeep and lax safety standards. Most of the temples, which are built years ago, there is no emergency exit. People will be standing in queues to see the God and cannot come back. Queue barricades should have regular gates in between to come out in the case of an emergency. The authorities and Fire officers should become proactive in religious places, should take a thorough check and should not compromise just terming it as a ‘Sacred’ place.
The Kollam temple is over 100 years old. It's named after a goddess who people believed lived inside an ant hill.