‘It came like a storm’: Kerala survivors describe temple blaze horror


People gathered in the temple premises after the fire mishap took place early on Sunday. (Sarath ST/HT Photo)

“It came like a storm, throwing everyone to the ground.”

This was how Anish Kumar described the explosions and a blaze that killed at least 110 people at Puttingal Devi temple in Kollam district’s Paravur on Sunday.

“There were bodies all over the place and the injured were writhing in pain,” he said.

Thousands had packed overnight into the temple complex in Kerala when a stray firework landed on a stockpile, triggering a huge blast that partially demolished a concrete building.

The fireworks display, for which no permission was granted, started at midnight as part of an annual festival.

“I was horrified to see hundreds of men and women on the ground, lifeless,” said Kumar, who lost one of his friends in the disaster.

Eyewitnesses said the area plunged into darkness after the first blast, which shattered windows of homes 100 metres away.

It took almost two hours for the police and fire service to realise the magnitude of the disaster.

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