At least 100 people are feared dead after a massive fire swept through a temple in Kerala state of India.
The incident took place on Sunday morning in the coastal town of Paravir when a spark from the show ignited a separate pile of fireworks that was being stored at the Puttingal temple complex, officials said.
The officials further added at least 350 others have sustained injuries when the incident took place as thousands of people were packed into the temple.
Eye witnesses told television channels that the accident took place at 3.30 am. The sound of the explosion in the store-room was heard in around two-km radius of the temple, they said. According to the local media reports, the fireworks were organized as part of an event to mark the Hindu New Year at the temple.
National Disaster Response Force is being sent to Kerala to assist the local administration. Kerala’s Health Minister V S Sivakumar said directives have been issued to hospital authorities to make necessary arrangements for the injured. Initial reports suggested that the temple authorities did not have the permission to burst firecrackers, according to Hindustan Times newspaper.
A team of specialist doctors has been sent from Delhi amid reports of horrific burns suffered by those wounded. Several people were said to be in critical condition in hospitals. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has flown to Kerala, said the incident was “heart-rending and shocking beyond words”.
Fireworks and firecrackers are commonly used at temple festivals and other public events and accidents are not uncommon. Kerala is in the midst of an election for a new state assembly but political parties have called off campaigning as a mark of respect for the victims.