Kollam temple fire worst firework-related tragedy in Kerala in last 50 years

Kollam: The Puttingal Devi temple fire mishap, which claimed 100 lives and left over 300 injured in the early hours today, is one of the worst such tragedies witnessed by Kerala, where display of fireworks are an integral part of religious and cultural festivals.

Policemen gather beside a collapsed building as they try and rescue survivors after an explosion and fire at The Puttingal Devi Temple in Paravur early April 10, 2016. Photo/AFP
Policemen gather beside a collapsed building as they try and rescue survivors after an explosion and fire at The Puttingal Devi Temple in Paravur early April 10, 2016. Photo/AFP

Though cracker blasts, especially during religious festivals, are not new in the state, today's tragedy is the worst in over last 50 years of the state's history. The cracker blast at the premises of Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple in 1952 had claimed at least 68 lives.

As many as 20 people had been killed in another cracker blast during a church festival in Thrissur district in 1984 and 26 people had died during a blast in the storehouse of crackers at a temple in Malanada in Kollam in 1990. A cracker, which accidentally fell on spectators, claimed six lives in Thrissur in 1978.

Seven people had been killed during another explosion at the storehouse where firecrackers had been kept for the famous Thrissur Pooram festival in 2006. Absence of stringent laws to regulate the manufacturing and display of fireworks is one of the major causes behind such tragedies.

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