Kerala fire tragedy: In Paravur, life will never be the same again

Paravur (Kerala), April 14: It has been four days since over 110 people were killed in a horrific temple fire tragedy in this coastal town, but residents around the shrine are still a very shaken lot.

Men and women here say life is unlikely to be the same again any more. Many are still trying to come to grips with what happened on Sunday when a huge quantity of stacked fireworks exploded suddenly, raining death.

Paravur: Life will never be same again

By Wednesday night, 113 people had been confirmed dead. Many more are still being treated in hospitals in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram. A few remain in serious condition.

"The situation is such that every time my two children hear a noise, they come running to me and start crying," said a young woman living near the Puttingal Devi temple where the devastation took place.

"The children are still shaken up by the disaster," she said, not willing to give her name.

B.V. Unnithan, a retired government official, said his wife and some relatives went to her sister's house around 200 metres from the temple to watch the fireworks show.

They were among the thousands gathered in the temple premises.

Unnithan said he remembered waking up at around 3.45 a.m. on Sunday, only to find the locked doors of his house wide open.

"I did not realise that a tragedy had struck until a relative called me around 5.45 in the morning to find out what had happened at the Puttingal Devi temple."

His wife watched the exploding and dazzling fireworks till around 3 a.m. and then went to sleep.

Minutes after she hit the bed, dust from the roof of her sister's house fell on her face.

"They were jolted as the ground shook," Unnithan explained. It was only much later that they learnt that a huge quantity of fireworks had exploded in the temple, killing scores instantly.

"Many people in the area are yet to recover from the shock," Unnithan added.

Though some residents had raised concerns over the annual fireworks show, most people in Paravur town used to keenly wait for the event.

The fireworks display usually started the previous night and would go on till the early morning when the temple opened.

The Kerala government has decided to send counselling teams to the temple town. The teams will visit each house where the impact of the disaster was the maximum.

"I felt I had gone deaf because of the explosion," recalled a middle-aged man. "The final explosion was unbearable.

"I am told some people suffered bleeding from their ears on account of the deafening sound. No words can describe what we suffered," he said.

Fortunately for the man, he was viewing it all from his terrace. And so he escaped death.

Since Monday, local authorities are supplying drinking water in trucks to houses in and around the temple as most wells have either collapsed or the water has turned black in colour.

"We have been told not to use the water from the well until further notice. But no one has told us when our issues will be addressed," a woman complained.


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