One person was killed and around 25 others injured in a massive firecracker explosion on Monday, February 12, at Kerala’s Choorakkad near Tripunithura in Ernakulam district. The incident happened at around 10.30 in the morning after firecrackers kept in a temporary storage unit for the Puthiyakavu temple festival fireworks exploded.
According to residents who live near the storage unit, the explosion happened when the firecrackers were being unloaded from a vehicle that brought them to Choorakkad for the festival. One person identified as Vishnu, a native of Uloor in Thiruvananthapuram district passed away after succumbing to burns. Almost 25 others were injured, and it is reported that Vishu was the driver of the traveller that drove the firecrackers to Choorakkad. A car that was parked near the vehicle also caught fire. Among the injured, 18 were admitted to various government hospitals and 7 to private hospitals. The condition of five of the injured is critical.
The police are yet to confirm the exact cause of the explosion. District Collector NSK Umesh who visited the site said that the temple authorities had not taken any permission from the district administration for the storage of firecrackers in a residential area. He also added that a special team will investigate the lapses.
Sethumadhavan, a salesman working at a ration shop near the explosion site told TNM that he had seen them transporting the firecrackers in the morning. “I heard a loud cracking sound after a while. Many people are likely to be injured because the glass shards and other debris from nearby houses that were shaken in the blast fell onto them. I saw one or two people bleeding from their heads,” he said, adding that the shutters of the shop where he works were also broken.
Jaya, another resident of the area, told TNM that glass pieces from the windows shattered and fell on them. “We thought the gas cylinder inside the house had exploded, so we immediately left the house. After I came out on the road I realised that it was from the firecracker storage unit,” she said.
Several others like Jaya were injured after glass and other debris fell on them in the aftermath of the explosion. Around 20 to 25 houses were partially damaged and houses within a 2 km radius of the storage unit were severely affected. Krishnankutty, who lives opposite the firecracker storage unit, told TNM that his house was completely destroyed and that his wife, who was injured after a large piece of glass pierced her hand, is recovering in the hospital. Many other residents were evacuated by the police to avoid further accidents.
Hibi Eden, a Member of Parliament from the Ernakulam constituency, visited the explosion site and requested people not to panic and not to gather around the place since it could be dangerous.
The district collector further assured that arrangements have been made to temporarily relocate residents whose houses were damaged. According to reports, the police have denied permission for fireworks at the Puthiyakavu temple.