NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading to Kerala with a team of 15 specialists to help with the treatment of those injured in the massive fire that killed over 100 people at the Puttingal temple in Kollam early this morning.
PM Modi, who tweeted this morning that the fire was “heart-rending and shocking”, has asked the state government to “suspend protocol” for his visit, which means that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy or his ministers do not have to receive him on arrival.
The fire broke out around 3 am during a fireworks display at a ground next to the temple packed with 10,000 to 15,000 people attending a festival. Officials say a spark during the fireworks – for which the temple allegedly had been denied permission – ignited a separate batch of firecrackers stored in preparation for the New Year festival of Vishu on Thursday.
The fire erupted with a huge explosion and within moments, flames engulfed the temple in the coastal city 60 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
“Fire at temple in Kollam is heart-rending and shocking beyond words. My thoughts are with families of the deceased and prayers with the injured,” PM Modi said in his tweets.
The prime minister has asked the navy to send helicopters for rescue efforts.
The navy and the Indian Air Force have dispatched six helicopters and one Dornier aircraft Union health Minister JP Nadda is also heading to the site of the tragedy.
The Prime Minister has announced Rs. 2 lakh each as compensation to the next of the kin of the dead in Kollam temple fire; Rs. 50,000 to those injured.