Temple fire: Toll rises to 109, six persons booked

APTOPIX India Temple Fire An unidentified man weeps as bodies of victims lie outside a morgue at the Kollam district hospital after a massive fire broke out during a fireworks display at the Puttingal temple complex in Paravoor village, Kollam in Kerala on Sunday | AP

Police has registered a case against six persons, including members of temple managing committee and associates of firework contractors, on attempt to murder and other charges in connection with the Putttingal Devi temple fire tragedy, even as the toll rose to 109.

Five persons have also been held for questioning but the police did not reveal the identity of those booked and detained.

The accused were charged under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of IPC and Section four of the Explosives Substances Act, police said.

"The crime branch has initiated the investigation by collecting evidence from the mishap spot at the temple complex," ADGP (Crime Branch) S. Ananthakrishnan, heading the Crime Branch special investigation team, told PTI here.

"More persons will be included as accused after collecting documents and evidence," Ananthakrishnan said.

Among the accused are associates of two contractors, Surendran and Krishnakutty, who conducted the competitive fire works at the temple, situated at Paravoor, a semi-urban area about 60 km from the state capital.

Police said five workers associated with the contractor of the fireworks display have been detained for questioning.

Meanwhile, three more persons succumbed to injuries at different hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram. At least 383 injured persons are undergoing treatment at various hospitals in Kollam and the state capital.

Government medical teams would visit all hospitals where the injured have been admitted to assess the situation, it said.

The devastating fire had engulfed the 100-year-old Puttingal Devi Temple complex near here during an unauthorised display of fireworks early Sunday morning.

The Kerala government had ordered a judicial probe by a retired High Court Judge as also a probe by Crime Branch.

The tragedy had struck around 3.30 AM during a display of fireworks at the temple complex, where thousands of people had gathered to witness it.

The mishap occurred as sparks of the fireworks fell on the storeroom 'Kambapura' and the fire crackers kept there exploded with a deafening noise. The blaze spread quickly trapping devotees within the complex.

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