Indian police arrest 5 after Hindu temple explosion kills at least 110

Rescue teams search for survivors after a Hindu temple explosion in Kollam, India
(Image credit: Str/AFP/Getty Images)

Police in the southern Indian city of Kollam have detained five people who helped supply fireworks to a local Hindu temple, where an explosion early Sunday morning killed at least 110 worshippers gathered for a new year's festival, and injured hundreds more. The explosion was sparked by an errant firework in an unauthorized pyrotechnic display that landed amid a second stockpile of fireworks in a shed at the Puttingal Devi temple complex, local officials said. The blast destroyed that shed and an office building and sent flames and concrete into the night air. The main temple itself was not significantly damaged.

Police have opened a criminal inquiry, investigating 15 temple officials and the contractors who supplied them fireworks for culpable homicide and illegally storing explosives, and officials in Kerala state have ordered a judicial inquiry. The century-old Puttingal temple traditionally holds competitive fireworks displays at the end of the seven-day celebration, but local authorities said no this year, according to A. Shainamol, the district's top official. "They were clearly told that no permission would be given for any kind of fireworks."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.