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Death toll rises to 106 in India temple explosion and fire

11 April 2016

An explosion and fire at the Puttingal Devi temple complex at Paravoor in the Kollam district of the Indian state of Kerala killed 106 and injured a further 360, official sources said on April 11. The thousands in the complex had been attending a festival when a firework is thought to have landed on a stockpile of other fireworks, triggering a huge blast that tore through the concrete buildings.

Stock image
Stock image

Local sources said people ran in panic as the massive initial blast cut off power in the complex, while other explosions sent flames and debris raining down. Some found it difficult to escape from the complex in the darkness and were trapped.

Many of the wounded are suffering serious burn injuries while others were trampled in the rush to get away from the temple or were crushed by collapsing walls.

The temple holds a competitive fireworks show every year, with different groups putting on displays to celebrate the end of a seven-day festival honouring the goddess Bhadrakali, a southern Indian incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali.

There were reports, however, that permission to hold the fireworks display had been withheld this year, and that it had gone ahead illegally.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew from New Delhi to visit the site and met with Kerala leaders to discuss measures to help the survivors.

On the same day an explosion was also reported at the Itarsi Defence Ordnance Factory in Madhya Pradesh, where five staff were reported injured.

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