Dozens Deceased After Fire Sweeps Through Temple

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 7:26 AM

Thousands of people celebrating the Hindu new year were packed into the temple in India when a massive explosion erupted.

Dozens Deceased After Fire Sweeps Through Temple

A enormous fire has torn through a temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala, killing over seventy people and injuring two hundred others who'd gathered for a fireworks display.

The Paravoor temple in the city of Kollam was crowded with thousands of devotees celebrating the Hindu new year when an explosion erupted at around 3.30am local time.

The blaze then spread quickly through the temple, trapping people within.

Television footage showed images of enormous clouds of white smoke billowing from the temple, as fireworks were still going off in the night sky.

Successive explosions sent enormous chunks of concrete flying as distant as half a mile, eyewitnesses said.

According to reports, the blaze is thought to have been caused by a firecracker that fell on a shed where fireworks were stored for the festivities.

One portion of the temple complex is reported to have collapsed and there are fears people may be trapped underneath.

Kerala residence minister Ramesh Chennithala said firefighters and police worked through the night to douse the fire and get the injured to hospital.

"Presently the situation is under control... the police are on the spot," he said.

State health authorities said many of the injured had been driven to the state capital as hospitals in Kollam were stretched. 

Every year, the Paravoor temple holds a competitive fireworks display, with different groups putting on successive light shows for thousands of devotees gathered for the latest day of a seven-day festival honouring the Hindu goddess Bhadrakali.

This year'south contest was happening without permission, after the state'south High Ct banned competitive light shows at temples.

State Labour Minister Shibu Baby John said incident would be investigated.

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