'Let's Watch a Few More Minutes': Fireworks Disaster Kills 110
Indian temple's board members now on the run
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 11, 2016 12:31 AM CDT
A view of a collapsed building after a massive fire broke out during a fireworks display at the Puttingal Devi temple complex in southern Kerala state, India, on Sunday.   (Uncredited)
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(Newser) – Rescue officials are sifting through a Hindu temple in southern India where at least 110 people died when a fireworks display—an unauthorized pyrotechnic show that went horribly wrong—swept through the temple packed with thousands for a religious festival. The death toll from the pre-dawn fire on Sunday at the Puttingal Devi temple complex in the village of Paravoor now stands at 110 people with more than 380 others hurt, a police spokesman says. Scores of devotees ran in panic as the massive initial blast cut off power in the complex, while other explosions sent flames and debris raining down, a witness says. Many people were trapped, reports the AP. Some chunks of concrete fell as far as half a mile away, a witness tells the AP.

"We were about to return home, when [my son-in-law] said, 'Let's watch for a few more minutes,'" recalled a gray-haired man in his 50s. "Then came this loud explosion, and everything went dark. I've been searching for him everywhere." The fire started when a spark from the fireworks show ignited a separate batch of fireworks stored in the temple complex, says Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the top elected official in Kerala state. Police are searching for 15 members of the temple board who fled after the accident. They could face charges that include culpable homicide, which is punishable with life imprisonment, and illegally storing a cache of explosives.