Sixty-three people were killed and over 200 injured during festivities at the Puttingal Devi Temple at nearby Paravoor early on Sunday when a huge explosion occurred at a store room filled with crackers and pyrotechnic material.

Thousands of people had gathered at the temple precincts to witness the fireworks display which were on since midnight.

The mishap occurred as sparks fell on the storeroom ‘Kambapura’ and exploded with a thundering noise at around 3.30 AM, police said.

The sound of the explosion could be heard over a km radius.

The whole area plunged into darkness as the power supply went off and people ran helter skelter, eyewitnesses said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday termed as “heart-rending” and “shocking” the fire at a temple in Kollam and said he is rushing to Kerala to take stock of the situation.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is rushing to the accident spot after cancelling his programmes, said the situation was “unprecedented and alarming”.

“Rescue operation at the mishap spot is over…The next main focus of the government is to provide best treatment to the injured,” he told PTI.

Asked about the death toll, the Chief Minister said the number would go up as reports are pouring in from different hospitals, where the injured have been admitted.

“This is an unprecedented and alarming situation,” Chandy said.

The government would extend treatment facilities to the injured persons in the hospitals preferred by their relatives, Chandy said.

The State Chief Secretary has been asked to write a letter to the Election Commission for necessary sanction to exclude the treatment facilities to the injured from the ambit of the Election Code of Conduct, he said.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told PTI that 63 people were confirmed dead and over 150 are said to be injured.

Officials fear the toll could go up.

According to police officials, over 200 were injured in the mishap.

Many bodies have been charred and a DNA test would be conducted to ascertain the identity of the deceased.

The injured, most of them with burn injuries, have been rushed to various hospitals in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.

(Feature image source: Twitter | @ibnlive + @ANI_news)