Temple authorities being blamed for explosion that killed 108 in Kerala

The fireworks display was carried out despite a ban by district magistrate.

The competitive fireworks at a temple in Kerala in India that has killed 108 people so far and left over 400 grievously injured had been banned by an order passed by the district magistrate, but was ignored by the temple administration.

Using political clout, the fireworks display was carried out resulting in a powerful explosion that reduced nearby buildings to rubble and causing the death of a person on his vehicle a kilometer away when a concrete piece hit his head. Almost 30 people died instantly.

While the fireworks began late on Saturday night, it was early on Sunday when 70 percent of the stock had been exhausted that a spark from one fell on the remaining stockpile setting off the massive explosion. The blast cut off the power supply inside the Puttingal temple (Kollam district) creating panic, reports the Indian Express.

Fireworks display is common at most temples and some churches in Kerala. Often these are competitions where two or more sides compete in bursting the louder and more impactful crackers. Often the stockpile is more than the 15 kgs allowed. Many times banned substances like sulphur and potassium chlorate are used for the bigger sounds they create. Accidents too have been regular numbering over 400 in five decades.

In fact, the Kerala High Court banned competitive cracker shows at temples. Yet the shows are held on the basis of temporary permits given on the grounds of religious tradition.

At Puttingal, both the Additional District Magistrate and District Collector had denied permit citing safety considerations. As elections in the state are approaching, the temple authorities went ahead on the confidence that no one would stop them. They refused to show the police the permission they claimed they had obtained.