KOCHI:In one of the worst accidents of its kind in the state, 110 people were killed and nearly 500 injured in a huge explosion in a temple complex, near Kollam on Sunday morning. The explosion happened when sparks from the firework display organised by the temple landed on the building where the fire crackers where stored.
The accident, which occured around 3 am at at the Puttingal Devi Temple Complex at Paravoor destroyed the store house and damaged the temple and nearby houses. Police have registered a case against the temple authorities and the explosive licensees. It has been brought to light that the Kollam District Collector had denied permission to the temple authorities to hold competitive firework display.
A special Cabinet meeting held at Kollam on Sunday noon decided to hold a judicial inquiry. Retired justice Krishnan Nair will be conduct the probe. The time frame for the inquiry has been fixed as six months. A crime branch probe into the incident will be conducted by ADGP Ananthakrishnan.
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of the dead. The government would give Rs 2 lakh to the people with serious injuries and Rs 50,000 to those with minor injuries.
The state government will bear the treatment expenses of the injured, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the accident site and the hospitals where the injured are undergoing treatment, described the incident as “shocking”. The Prime Minister declared that a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to the injured. In the morning, a navy aircraft and two naval ships carrying medicines and other essential articles reached Kollam. Due to the coordinated efforts of the central and state governments, air ambulances were arranged to transport the seriously injured to better hospitals.
The Prime Minister held discussions with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the afternoon.
Union Health Minister J P Nadda will camp at Kollam to coordinate the relief operations. BJP president Amit Shah and Congress vicepresident Rahul Gandhi also visited the accident site.
The major political fronts in the state suspended election work with almost all leaders reaching the accident site to coordinate relief work. Leaders like A K Antony and the CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan demanded that the incident should be declared as a national tragedy.