India temple fire: At least 105 people killed in fireworks disaster

Posted at 10:50 AM, Apr 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-10 10:56:07-04

(CNN) — The death toll from Sunday’s fireworks disaster at an Indian temple has soared to 105, a hospital official in Kollam said.

More than 500 people were also injured after a fireworks display exploded during a festival at the temple in southern India, officials said.

The fire started at 3:15 a.m. at the Puttingal temple in Kollam, in Kerala state. Sparks from the display ignited a magazine of fireworks, causing a larger blaze, local police official K. Laljy said.

The temple did not have permission for the fireworks celebration, police official M.S. Santosh said.

Laljy said the fire has been extinguished.

Started as a celebration

The worshippers were celebrating a local temple festival, police commissioner P. Prakash said. It’s not uncommon for people to pray at temples early in the morning in southern India.

The temple is more than 100 years old. It’s named after a goddess who people believed lived inside an ant hill.

Indian Prime Narendra Modi called the fire “heart-rending and shocking beyond words.”

“My thoughts are with families of the deceased and prayers with the injured,” he said in a statement.

The Prime Minister said he plans to visit the site of the fire.

“I will be reaching Kerala soon to take stock of the situation arising due to the unfortunate fire tragedy,” he tweeted.

His office said the families of those killed will get about $3,000 in “ex-gratia relief.” Those injured in the temple fire will receive 50,000 rupees ( $751) in compensation.

History of deadly fires

India has seen a handful of lethal fires in recent years.

In September an explosion in central India caused by mining explosives killed nearly 90 people.

In 2014, nine people were killed in a train fire.

Another blaze in February shut down a performance in Mumbai. No casualties were reported