India

Temple fire: Anguish in local media

Indian bystanders carry an injured man after an explosion and fire at The Puttingal Devi Temple (Photo: AFP) Image copyright AFP
Image caption A judicial inquiry has been ordered into the temple fireworks blast

Newspapers in Kerala are full of anguish and anger over the explosion and fire at a Hindu temple that killed more than 100 people.

Editorials call the unauthorised fireworks display on Sunday a "manmade disaster" that should never happen again.

Even as papers call for a strict probe, they have asked authorities to focus on those affected by the tragedy.

The priority is to treat the injured and to console families, they say.

Image caption The Malayala Manorama newspaper calls the temple tragedy 'the country's biggest fireworks accident'

'Wounds of separation'

The headline of Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi's editorial reads "Stop this play with fire", calling for temples to reconsider holding similar fireworks displays.

"Kerala is weeping over wounds of separation that will never dry," it says.

"What happened was a manmade disaster that should never have happened… This [investigation] should not be ever allowed to become a farce."

Another prominent Malayalam daily Malayala Manorama calls for a comprehensive investigation into the people responsible for "this accident that was asked for".

"Yesterday's tragedy... [proves] that we have not learned any lessons from the 380 fireworks-related incidents that have destroyed over 500 lives in the last ten years."

'No point in blame game'

Vernacular daily Deshabhimani says in the headline of its editorial: "Should not repeat this".

The paper says there are lots of things to be done before discussions on avoiding similar mishaps.

"We have to reassure families affected by this disaster. We have to console those who have lost closed ones. We have to ensure the best possible treatment for the injured. We have to identify every dead body."

The Deepika newspaper advises against bringing politics into the discussion, especially as the state is set to hold assembly elections next month.

"There is no point of a blame game after an accident has taken place. Politics will mix with this tragedy that happened to take place as Kerala is set to enter election fever."

'Greed to win prizes'

The temple administration have also come under the line of fire of newspapers from the rest of the country.

Prominent English-language The Hindu daily describes the accident as a result of "gross negligence" and a "reckless disregard for the safety of others".

"Such negligence cannot be treated as a mere mistake as we have witnessed many tragedies at religious gatherings previously," adds Hindi daily Jansatta.

Asking for a thorough inquiry and stringent punishment, Hindi daily Dainik Jagran urges religious leaders to teach "patience and discipline" to their followers.

The tragedy is the result of "greed to win prizes" and subsequent "power show off" between two local contractors, says Hindi daily Amar Ujala.

"Political parties must refrain from trying to extract electoral capital from the tragedy in poll-bound Kerala - it is important that the truth is not crowded out by the noise," notes The Hindu.

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