Organisers go into hiding; banned fireworks stocked

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Kochi, Feb 19 (UNI) The organisers of the Maradu Bhagwathy temple festival, where two people were killed and 30 injured during a fireworks display last night, have gone into hiding even as preliminary investigation has revealed that banned fireworks had been stocked.

Ernakulam District Collector APM Mohammad Hanish, who last night ordered the Fort Kochi RDO to submit a report into the incident in five days' time, said today that a preliminary investigation showed that a sizeable quantity of firecrackers in the banned category were stocked.

Also the stockpile of fireworks was much in excess of the license given, he said.

''The RDO and the explosives controller have carried out an initial survey. Meanwhile, the organisers of the festival and the temple authorities have gone into hiding and a hunt is on for them,'' he added.

While initial reports had said that three people were killed in the mishap, later it was confirmed that two people had died and about 30 injured.

Police said the deceased had been identified as Subin, 18, and Suresh Babu, 45, both residents of Ernakulam district.

A case had been registered under various sections of the IPC, Explosives Substances Act and Explosives Act, police said.

However, no arrests have been made so far.

The incident took place at around 2100 hrs. last night when a huge crowd had gathered to watch the sample fireworks display on the main day of the six-day temple festival, which had stared on February 15.

Two ''dynamites'' or ''rockets'' were launched simultaneously.

While one went off into the air and exploded, the other fell back on the crowd and exploded on on the ground.

According to eyewitness reports, the crowds had gathered too close to the fireworks display area, not maintaining the requisite distance.

Following the incident, the district collector had banned the main fireworks display, which was scheduled in the early hours today.

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