A massive religious fireworks display gone terribly wrong on Sunday has left more than 100 people dead with over 380 injured at a temple in India’s southern Kerala state.
The Puttingal Devi temple – about 70 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram in the coastal district of Kollam – was packed with thousands of devotees and worshippers, who had gathered for a fireworks display to mark the start of the local Hindu new year.
The fire began about 3.30am local time after a live firecracker set off a batch of fireworks stored in the temple in Kollam.
Many of the worshippers suffered severe burns and fractures after becoming entrapped within the temple. Others had to be pulled out from the rubble of a board office building next door that was destroyed in the fireworks explosion, according to The Hindu.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew to Kollam with a team of doctors to help state authorities cope with the large number of injured people, moving swiftly to pre-empt criticism over lack of public safety.
“The fire at the temple in Kollam is heart-rending and shocking beyond words,” he said in a Twitter post.
“My thoughts are with families of the deceased and prayers with the injured.”
Mr. Modi has faced public criticism in the past for failing to respond quickly to disasters such as the floods in Chennai late last year.