Kerala temple fire: Police detain five people as death toll mounts to 112
Kollam: Five people have been detained in connection with the deadly inferno at the Puttingal temple in Kollam district in Kerala.
"Five people have been detained in connection with the fireworks show," Kerala Director General of Police (DGP) TP Senkumar said.
Senkumar also said that cases have been filed against two contractors entrusted with the fireworks by the temple authorities.
At least 112 people were charred to death and more than 350 were injured in a fire accident at Puttingal temple during a festival at Paravur in Kollam district early morning yesterday.
Preliminary inquiries by the police revealed that, Senkumar said, sparks from an ignited high-intensity pyrotechnic display spread to a storehouse (Kambapura) adjoining the temple, where a large cache of explosives was stored, resulting in a massive blast, the impact of which was felt over 1-km radius of the temple.
Meanwhile, Travancore Devaswom Board, which is entrusted with the task of administrating over 1,200 temples in the state, has refused to ban fireworks display.
The Board's president said that fireworks will not be banned under any circumstances and it is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure safety.
When Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Cheennithala was asked why police had not stopped the fireworks since it was not permitted, he said, “Actually, it is not a police failure. When lakhs of people are assembled here, if there is police action, it will have another problem. So, we have to consider all these aspects.”
Officials say that 10,000-15,000 people were present at a ground next to the temple in Paravur watching fireworks during a festival to honor Goddess Kali when the fire started a little after 3 am.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who yesterday took stock of the situation, sought for a detailed report from the state administration as to how the fire broke out and caused damage to life and property on such a large scale. He also announced Rs 2 lakh as compensation to families of each of the dead.
On the other hand, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to families of the dead, Rs 2 lakh each to the seriously injured and Rs 50,000 to those with minor injuries. He also ordered a judicial probe and a simultaneous investigation by the Crime Branch of Kerala Police to determine how the fireworks show ended up raining death.