At least 102 people have been confirmed killed and over 380 injured in a massive fire that broke out at the Puttingal Devi Temple in the city of Kollam in Kerala early on Sunday. Sixty bodies, which were taken to the Kollam Government Hospital, have been identified so far. Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told NDTV that the fire has been brought under control now and the injured are being taken to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital.
The blaze started around 3.30 am on Sunday after fireworks were lit in celebration of the Vishu festival, which marks the beginning of the new year. The explosives, which were kept in a shed inside the temple complex, ignited after the firecrackers were burst, reported Manorama. According to reports, the temple authorities did not have permission to conduct the fireworks display. The Kerala government has ordered a judicial investigation into the incident, which will be presided by a retired High Court judge, along with a probe by the Crime Branch.
At least 15,000 people are reported to have been present in and around the temple when the fire broke out. The National Disaster Response Force was sent to Kollam to assist the local authorities in the rescue operations, reported PTI. The Indian Air Force and Navy have also dispatched ships, aircrafts and helicopters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Kollam later in the day, along with a medical team comprising burn specialists. He earlier announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the people killed in the fire and Rs 50,000 each for the injured, reported PTI. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of those killed, and Rs 2 lakh for each of the injured.
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This is how the day unfolded:
4.40 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached the Puttingal Devi temple in Kollam and is being briefed on the tragedy and rescue operations.
3.30 pm: The Karnataka government said it is sending a 10-member medical team comprising doctors and paramedical staff to the Puttingal Devi temple. The team will carry medicines and blood for those injured in the tragedy, reported PTI. Karnataka Health Minister UT Khader said, "We are ready to send more specialist doctors and counsellors after getting to know about the ground situation from the Kerala officials."
3.20 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of the people killed in the fire, and Rs 2 lakh for each of the injured, reported PTI.
3 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached Thiruvananthapuram Airport, from where he will proceed towards Kollam. Modi is expected to meet Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and be briefed on the tragedy.
1 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy arrived at the site of the tragedy and said that 98 people have been confirmed dead, out of which 56 have been identified, reported ANI. Chandy commended the police, fire brigad officials and locals for their work in the rescue operations and said that sufficient medical facilities are available at the site. Asked if his government will order a judicial investigation into the incident, Chandy said that it will be discussed in a Cabinet meeting scheduled for later today.
12.45 pm: Here are some more pictures from the site of the incident:
11.30 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on his way to Kollam, along with a medical team comprising burn specialists. The prime minister has instructed for no official welcome protocols to be followed on his arrival, reported ANI.
Here are the latest pictures from the site of the incident:
11 am: The Indian Navy and the Air Force have joined in the rescue operations. Six helicopters and one Dornier aircraft have been dispatched to Kollam. The Navy has also sent three ships – INS Kabra, INS Kalpeni and INS Sunayna – with medical stores to assist the injured, reported PTI.
10.50 am: A case has been registered against the Puttingal Devi temple authorities, reported PTI. According to reports, the temple did not have permission to organise a fireworks display, which led to the inferno.
10.40 am: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has convened an emergency cabinet meeting at 3 pm on Sunday.
10.10 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the people killed in the fire and Rs 50,000 each for the injured, reported PTI.
9.30 am: Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah has cancelled all his public functions scheduled in Kerala on Sunday in the wake of the fire, reported ANI. He is expected to visit Kollam later in the day. Kerala goes to the polls on May 16.
9.15 am: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he had cancelled all his scheduled poll campaigns and was on his way to the temple. Chandy told PTI, "Rescue operation at the mishap spot is over...The next main focus of the government is to provide best treatment to the injured (sic). This is an unprecedented and alarming situation." Chandy also said that his government would treat the injured in the hospitals preferred by their relatives.
8.45 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences and said he is arranging for the critically injured to be shifted to hospital via helicopter:
Here are pictures and videos of the fire, released by ANI: