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Fireworks rules violated in Hindu holiday tragedy

Reporter: Shweta Bajaj 丨 CCTV.com

04-12-2016 10:18 BJT

India has detained five people after more than 100 died after a fireworks display went wrong in a temple in southern state of Kerala. Indian media reports say all the rules were violated.

The state of Kerala’s obsession with fireworks may have played a part in the Hindu temple fire that killed more than 100 people Sunday.

Local police say local authorities did not grant the 500 year-old temple permission for the fireworks display. Media reports say it may have involved as much as 50 tons of gunpowder.

A spark from a rocket that exploded close to the ground ignited other fireworks, igniting an inferno that engulfed the temple. An investigation has been launched.

“We have ordered a judicial inquiry and a crime branch inquiry. After getting the report we will do what is needed,” said V.S. Sivakumar, Health Minister, Kerala.

The local police have registered a case against 25 people, including temple committee members. Police has already detained five people from the company that supplied the fireworks.

Competitive fireworks are not just a spectacle for the audience in Kerala, it is largely about exhibition of money power and religious clout.

Year after year, new directives come asking temples to not use certain explosives because of noise pollution, but these rules are openly flouted in connivance with the authorities.

Firework displays are an integral part of Kerala’s temple festivals, but inadequate safety measures has led to many accidents.

Twenty-four people lost their lives in such accidents in Kerala in 2006; 42 in 2007; in 2010, 53 people lost their lives. But there has not been a tragedy as massive as this one. Health authorities say they were also caught off guard.

“A sudden rush of people definitely leads to some commotion, some bit of anxiety and stress because this is a public event. A lot of people kept coming and pouring,” said Dr. K. Ellangovan, Health Secretary, Kerala.

“The situation looks pretty bad from that point but patient care wise as you heard 50 surgeries were done in the last two days which is quite remarkable.”

Victims are being treated in hospitals as families try to come to terms with the massive tragedy. Relatives are still searching for loved ones-a heartbreaking task complicated by the fact that some bodies are burned beyond recognition.

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