Eyewitness recounts horror of Kollam fire tragedy

fire-kollam In this image made from video, officials put an injured person into an ambulance following a fire at a temple in Kollam /AP

An eyewitness recounted the terror at the Kollam temple, where a massive fire broke due to a fireworks explosion that has so far killed at least 102 people and left over 350 injured.

Speaking to IANS, Lallu S.Pillai, a journalist who was covering the temple festival for a television news channel, said it only took a few minutes for the disaster to take place.

"I was watching the event unfold about 150 metres from the terrace of my friend's home. The firework display was only around half an hour to finish when a spark of an already lit cracker landed in the concrete building that stored the high potency crackers. In a few minutes, the building came crashing down and we felt the place shaking," said Pillai.

"Then it was absolute chaos and pieces of concrete were scattered all over the place and some of it was founded over 500 metres away in a taxi stand," Pillai added.

The impact of the explosion has also damaged homes in and around the temple. The residents of the area said they found body parts of the victims lying outside their homes.

The death toll in the incident is expected to go up.

Thousands of people had gathered at the Putingal temple precincts to witness the fireworks display. The mishap took place when sparks emanating from a fireworks display ignited a storeroom 'Kambapura' filled with crackers and pyrotechnic materials.

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