A Temple Fire In India Killed Dozens When A Fireworks Display Went Awry
A fireworks display led to a deadly fire at a temple in India on Sunday morning, and dozens of people were rushed to local hospitals as early as 3:15 a.m. local time. A local official told CNN that as many as 75 people had been killed and more than 200 injured, although it's possible that those numbers could change as more information is made available. The fire occurred at the Puttingal Temple, a Hindu temple in the southern coastal city of Paravur.
According to several reports, the temple had been crowded with festival attendees when the fire broke out, as a fireworks display threw sparks onto another nearby magazine of fireworks. The display was meant to end a week-long festival for the goddess Bhadrakali, while the nearby fireworks were reportedly to be used in the upcoming Vishnu festival, the annual celebration of the Hindu New Year in Paravur's home state, Kerala.
Paravur is a town of fewer than 50,000 people, located in the larger municipal district of Kollam. Kollam has historically been an important seaport for India, attracting merchants, trader, and tourists for generations. Additionally, Kollam is the among the least polluted cities in India, and it is known for its progressive development. For instance, the ratio of females to males in Kollam is the second highest among the top 500 most populated cities in India.
According to local officials, the fire was put out promptly when first responders arrived on the scene. Victims were rushed to at least two hospitals in the area, and the damage from the fire reportedly spread to nearby houses as well as the temple. India's prime minister has announced that he will visit the site in the coming days.
This tragedy and fallout has also happened as other Indian cities prepare for the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William and Kate Middleton were set to arrive in the country on Sunday.
Some reports suggest that the fireworks display planned by the temple had not been approved of by local police. The Indian Express published a photo a few hours after news of the fire broke that reportedly showed a document denying the temple permission to organize such a display. It's unclear if permission had been obtained through a different route.
Regardless of the legalities, what should have been a celebratory event quickly turned tragic on Sunday morning when the fire broke out. As CNN noted shortly after the news broke, India has seen at least two other similar fires in recent years, although the causes were different each time. For now, the recovery process has begun in Kollam and will likely continue for at least several days.