More than 100 people have been killed and 200 have been injured after a crowded temple caught fire in southern India, officials say. The blaze was ignited by firecrackers during a religious celebration.
The fire at the Hindu Puttingal Devi temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala claimed more than 100 lives, with another 200 people injured, Indian officials said on Sunday.
According to State Home Minister Ramesh Chennitala, the blaze started when a spark from a fireworks display ignited a batch of firecrackers stored inside the crowded temple complex in Kollam city.
The spark caused an explosion, with flames engulfing the temple in minutes, the official said.
A large number of worshipers were trapped inside the building when the fire first started.
Firefighters and security forces have spent hours battling the flames, according to Chennitala. Authorities are using bulldozers to clear the area of the debris.
"Now the situation is under control," Chennitala said. "The police are on the spot," he added.
Thousands of devotees had gathered around the temple for a Hindu celebration.
Echoes of Kolkata
Acccording to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, temple officials had gone ahead with the fireworks display even after the authorities denied permission due to safety concerns.
"District collector of Kollam denied sanction for this," Chandy said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the Kollam fire as "heart-rending" and "shocking beyond words."
The Sunday incident comes only ten days after a flyover collapse in Kolkata killed dozens, prompting fresh criticism of building standards in India.