Citizens' Issues
110 die in Kerala temple tragedy, Modi calls it 'dreadful'
Kollam (Kerala) : At least 110 devotees were killed and over 350 injured when an illegal fireworks show set off massive explosions and caused a huge blaze in a Hindu temple in Kerala before dawn on Sunday in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said was a "dreadful tragedy".
 
Many of those warded in hospitals were in critical condition. Modi, who visited the disaster-hit Puttingal Devi temple in Peravur town here, suggested that they could be flown to Mumbai or New Delhi for treatment.
 
Only two of the dead were women, police sources told IANS.
 
"The tragedy is unimaginable and dreadful," a sombre Modi said in Thiruvananthapuram just before taking a flight to Delhi. He announced Rs.2 lakh as compensation to families of each of the dead.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced a compensation of Rs.10 lakh to families of the dead, Rs.2 lakh each to the seriously injured and Rs.50,000 to those with minor injuries.
 
He also ordered a judicial probe and a simultaneous investigation by the Crime Branch of Kerala Police to determine how the fireworks show ended up raining death.
 
Dazed survivors said the disaster happened when stacks of explosives stored in a building a little away from the 100-year-old temple exploded, apparently after a spark from a firecracker landed on its roof.
 
The incident occurred just after 3 a.m. amid a dazzling and deafening fireworks display even after the local authorities had declined permission for it. The celebrations had begun the previous night.
 
K. Jayakumar, a travel agent, explained how the disaster struck.
 
"A fireball engulfed the entire area right before my eyes," he told the media. "A concrete slab came flying my way and hit the person sitting next to me. He died on the spot."
 
The impact of the explosion brought down the building where the crackers had been stored, trapping many. 
 
Chunks of concrete flew at great speed, killing unsuspecting devotees who had gathered in thousands.
 
Lallu S. Pillai, a journalist who was on the terrace of a nearby house, told IANS that many died within minutes.
 
Once the building came crashing down, "we felt the place shake", he said. "After that it was absolute chaos."
 
Other devotees said people, frightened by the explosions, started to run, at times tripping over one another.
 
Several houses in a half-kilometre radius were damaged.
 
Prakashan, who lives near the temple, said he had been complaining for years against the fireworks display but was ignored.
 
Temple officials fled the spot after the tragedy. IANS tried to reach some of them on their mobile phones but they were switched off.
 
Police arrested five men linked to a father-and-son contractor pair who were responsible for the fireworks show.
 
The father himself was in a serious condition in a hospital while the son had suffered 50 percent burn injuries.
 
For hours after the tragedy, charred bodies and human remains lay scattered in the temple complex. Authorities then began clearing the heaps of debris.
 
Amid the election fever in Kerala, Chief Minister Chandy held an emergency cabinet meeting in Kollam. He said the incident "should open the eyes of all of us" vis-a-vis temple celebrations.
 
He said the government would bear the expenses of the injured.
 
Spiritual guru Mata Amritanandamayi Devi called for a ban on the use of firecrackers in temples or at least their minimum use, that too under careful supervision.
 
At the Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram, about 60 km away, 124 people were admitted, mostly with broken bones in their hands and legs. A few had burn injuries, indicating fire was not the only cause of death.
 
Within hours, the army, air force and the navy joined in rescue operations and to provide medical treatment. Ships sailed from Kochi while helicopters flew in from Tamil Nadu as well.
 
Making a brief statement at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital, Modi said he was deeply grieved. "We stand by Kerala's grief and we will do everything we can to bring down the misery." 
 
After spending about 10 minutes walking around the temple complex, Modi and Chandy drove to the Kollam district hospital where 185 of the injured are undergoing treatment.
 
All political parties on Sunday cancelled their election meetings as a mark of respect for the dead.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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'India's animation industry has seen unprecedented growth'
New Delhi : With global players exploring India as a talent pool for animation content and Indian filmmakers looking out for subjects with a "broad mass appeal", there's a huge potential for the growth of the animation world in the country, says US-based Avneet Kaur, who has lent her creative touch to Hollywood entertainers like "Tangled", "Frozen" and "Zootopia".
 
"The animation industry is definitely evolving in India. It has witnessed unprecedented growth rates in recent times," Kaur told IANS in an email interview from Los Angeles.
 
Her statement is well supported by the fact that India's animation industry generated revenues to the tune of Rs.51.1 billion in 2015, marking a growth rate of 13.8 percent, according to a FICCI-KPMG report.
 
Kaur, who is a simulation technical director at Walt Disney Animation Studios, said: "Over the last decade, it has seen the entry of many global studios who have tapped into India's talent pool.
 
"Additionally, leading Indian production houses like Tata and Reliance are now investing in the animation market and collaborating with Indian filmmakers to make animated features that have broad mass appeal and entertain their local audiences.
 
"I believe that this industry has huge business potential in India and is beginning to scale new heights."
 
India is said to have nearly 300 animation, 40 visual effects and 85 game development studios with over 15,000 professionals working for them, and these cater to not just the movie world but also to small screen content for children and regional platforms.
 
Kaur says it is Bollywood that taught her to dream big, and her love for films made her walk on the animation path to reach the world of Hollywood.
 
Having worked on films like "Bolt", "Wreck-It Ralph" and "Feast", would she want to try her hand at an animation project in Bollywood?
 
"May be some time in the future if the correct opportunity arises. It will be a homecoming, for my work," said Kaur, who after spending her growing up years in New Delhi and pursuing Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch) from the Birla Institute of Technology, India, took a foreign detour as she did her M.S. Visualisation Sciences from Texas A&M University, US.
 
While the cinematic world at large continues to paint a picture of India as a place with a mysterious, magical and enchanting quality, Kaur believes people in the west define India as a "strong, modern and forward-thinking nation" which is in touch with its culture and history.
 
"India is a potpourri of diverse cultures. Growing up in so many different cities, each with its unique and diverse traditions, our family always had more festivals and occasions to celebrate.
 
"Bollywood taught me to dream big, and my family and friends taught me the essence of life, and kept me grounded. I am so grateful for everything I have learnt growing up in India."
 
She added that she always "loved to draw as a kid", and her parents encouraged her passion for the arts. Then she landed in Hollywood enthused with her love for films of all kinds.
 
Kaur asserted: "Having a job of making movies was the best thing that could have happened to me and what better place to do this at, than Walt Disney Animation Studios. I was offered a job at this magical place in 2005, and since then this is my second home."
 
She joined the team of "Zootopia", a film which brings the world of animals alive on the silver screen, when it was in early production, and worked as a character simulation technical director on it. Her next tryst with animation is Disney's musical adventure film "Moana".
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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After Bihar liquor ban, alcohol sellers flourish on India-Nepal border
Kathmandu : The complete ban on alcohol in India's Bihar state seems to have come as a boon for small traders in Nepal who sell low-quality alcohol. Reports here say there has been a sudden rise in small huts along the India-Nepal border to target alcohol customers from Bihar.
 
Authorities from India's border districts have sought help and cooperation from their Nepali counterparts to check the possible smuggling of alcohol and increase in surveillance along the border.
 
Bihar imposed a complete ban on sale of alcohol from April 1.
 
At a recent meeting in Forbesganj in Bihar, Indian authorities sought help from their Nepali counterparts to curb the movement of people seeking alcohol from Nepal.
 
Toyam Rai, chief district officer of Sunsari district who led the Nepali team, said that due to the open international border, there was high chance of smuggling of alcohol from Nepal to India, and so the Indian authorities asked Nepal to cooperate in preventing the smuggling.
 
Himanshu Sharma, district magistrate of Araria in Bihar, local police chiefs and others also participated as part of the Indian side in the meeting.
 
Reports said mostly people from the working class come to the Nepali side to buy alcohol. But when there is a holiday, businessmen and youth also cross the border.
 
Local hoteliers say there has been a 2-3 fold rise in sale of alcohol in the past one week, since the ban in Bihar.
 
Nepali traders have now increased the prices of local alcohol, but reports said the quality was quite poor due to the sudden rise in demand.
 
"With the ban on alcohol in Bihar, the Indian authorities have asked us to curb the smuggling of alcohol from Nepal. They are also concerned that after the ban, criminals may sneak into Nepal that will further invite security complications," said Sunsari Superintendent of Police Sandip Bhandari.
 
"With this new unfolding situation, we may face new security threats along the border," said Rai. "We have assured the Indian side about the security arrangements on the border."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Bapoo Malcolm

10 months ago

Dad used to say that no one can curb what one eats, drinks or wears.

My friends had set up a distillery in Gujrat, only to close it down due to heavy competition. A bottle of beer increases by Rs. 10 with every crossing. There were lanes in Ahmedabad that were reserved for each type of liquor; one for whiskey, another for rum and so on. ONE LEANED OUT OF A CAR WINDOW AND EXCHANGED CASH FOR A BOTTLE OR TWO. Nary a word took place.

Only the cops and politicians benefitted.

This place is too small to tell the many such stories. The whole thing is a joke. A cruel one.

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