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Temple fire consumes 106 lives in Kerala

Staff Reporter – 
info@indiannewslink.co.nz

Even as India copes with unheard of floods in parts of Tamil Nadu and drought in Uttar Pradesh, a man-made disaster has consumed 106 lives in Kerala as a Temple was set ablaze by unauthorised fireworks.

Modi mourns

The incident was so tragic that it brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi to share the grief of the people of the State, which also saw almost 300 people injured.

He brought with him a number of burn specialists from Delhi.

Mr Modi described the incident as ‘heart-rending’ and ‘shocking’ and announced Rs 200,000 (about $4365) as compensation to the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 ($1090) each to the injured.

The accident occurred on April 10 at the Puttingal Devi Temple in Kollam (earlier knows as Quilon), about 72 kms from the State Capital Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) during a display of fireworks.

A visually moved Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters that the mishap occurred as sparks from the fireworks fell on the store room and that the firecrackers kept there exploded with a deafening noise.

“Police have told me that the explosion could be heard over a radius of one km and the whole area plunged into darkness as the power supply went off and people ran helter-skelter,” he said.

“The District Collector of Kollam had not given permission to conduct fireworks. An inquiry will be held,” Mr Chandy added.

Criminal case

Meanwhile, the Police have registered a case against the Temple authorities and those who brought the explosives under Section 307 (Attempt to Murder) Section 308 (Attempt to commit culpable homicide) and Section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act of the Indian Penal Code.

A Press Trust of India report said that while about 300 people were undergoing treatment at various hospitals in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram, anxious relatives who fear having lost their family members are left with no option to identify the dead except DNA tests. They have approached the Rajiv Gandhi Biotechnology Centre to conduct a DNA match on samples collected from unidentified dead bodies.

The Police said that 14 bodies had charred beyond recognition and that another 30 persons have been reported missing.

Identifying bodies

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi visits Kollam Distt. Hospital to meet the victims of fire accident, in Kerala on April 10, 2016.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi visits Kollam Distt. Hospital to meet the victims of fire accident, in Kerala on April 10, 2016.

“Identification of severely or totally burnt human remains from extreme fire impact is a tough task. Only hard tissues, bones and teeth may be left for DNA analysis. DNA extracted from burnt bone fragments may be highly degraded, making an amplification of genetic markers extremely difficult,” a Scientific Officer said.

City Police Commissioner P Prakash said that people noticed a number of cars found near the Temple were packed with explosives.

“We cordoned off the area, examined the cars and found that some of the explosives were of high density. we do not have the expertise to defuse them, we have assigned the task to experts at the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation camping at Paruvar for the investigation into the explosions.

Photo:

  1. Modi with Oommen Chandy at Puttingal Temple in Paruvar in Kollam on April 10
  2. Modi speaks to a victim of the tragedy at Kollam District Hospital on April 10

(Pictures by Press Information Bureau, Government of India)

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