Kerala Temple Fire: At Least 96 Dead And 350 Injured In Kollam

10/04/2016 8:06 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

A judicial probe has been ordered in the tragic temple fire in Kollam on Sunday. At least 96 people are feared to have died and 350 injured in a fire that broke out at a temple in Kerala early Sunday morning. The incident took place at Puttingal temple in Kerala.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy termed the incident as "unprecedented" and "alarming" and said that the government would get a report on the judicial enquiry within six months. "We've announced ₹10 lakh to kin of those killed in accident, free treatment to all injured," he said. Separately, ₹2 lakh has been announced for those seriously injured & ₹50,000 for others with minor injuries.

Fireworks during the temple celebrations caused the fire, state home minister Ramesh Chennithala told Times Now. “It is a major tragedy," he said. "We are in touch with the Election Commission for help. A high-level probe will be ordered soon.” The new year in Kerala is four days away, but this was part of a separate community celebration.

A case has registered against Puttingal temple authorities following the incident.

According to reports, the fire broke out around 3.30 am during the fireworks display. A report in Hindustan Times suggests that the temple authorities did not have permission to burst the firecrackers. Several of the injured were rushed to a local hospital in Paravur and Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.

"District Collector of Kollam is convening a meeting of police officers," said Kerala Health Minister VS Sivakumar to ANI. "After that we'll decide on post-mortem and other things."

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy has joined in the rescue operations, dispatching a dornier and two advanced light helicopters with medical teams from the Garuda Naval Air station near Kochi.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Sunday morning that he had spoken with the state chief minister Oommen Chandy regarding the fire and was arranging for immediate shifting of those critically injured via helicopter. "Have also asked my Cabinet colleague & Health Minister JP Nadda to immediately reach the site of the fire tragedy in Kollam," he said. "I will be reaching Kerala soon to take stock of the situation arising due to the unfortunate fire tragedy in Kollam."

The PM has announced ₹2 lakh ex-gratia to the kin of deceased and ₹50,000 to those critically injured, reported ANI. He will land directly in Kollam to meet with the state chief minister and those injured in the incident. A team of 15 doctors and medical teams from AIIMS, RML and Safdarjung hospital including burn specialists will be also travelling with PM Modi to Kerala, reported ANI. He has asked for no official welcome protocols to be observed for his arrival.

The blast from the fire affected houses next to the temple, shattering window panes and causing injuries to residents, according to multiple reports in the local media. The fireworks display is part of the traditional celebration at the temple, according to a report in The Indian Express, and there is usually even a competition around it, which did not take place this time.

State election in Kerala is scheduled to take place on 16 May this year.

(This is a developing story. Check back for updates)

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