By Matters India Reporter
Angamaly: One youth was killed and four others were wounded on April 15 in a firework accident during a church festival in Kerala, southern India.
The accident occurred around 8:30 pm when someone lit firecrackers kept on the road during the church procession. One firecracker fell on a godown that had stored firecrackers for the feast of a wayside chapel in Assisi Nagar, Karukutty, near Angamaly, a town some 40 km north of Kochi, Kerala’s commercial capital.
Simon Mullaparampil, 21, died on the spot when the fire in the godown led to a huge explosion.
Four others received severe burn injuries. Two of them—Meljo Paulose and Stefin Jose — were admitted to the local Little Flower Hospital. The other two – Justine James and Joel Biju –were admitted to a private hospital in Kochi.
Officials said that a bunch of fire crackers stored near the chapel caught fire leading to the explosion.
Fire officials said that the group of youths seems to have been inside the storeroom which was about 50 meters away from the chapel when the incident happened.
The Fire brigade and police personnel were immediately alerted and they rushed to the spot.
The fire was already doused with water by the locals even before the fire brigade reached the spot. Officers said that a few others have also sustained injuries in the blast.
Churches in Kerala continue to use fireworks during feasts defying directives from the hierarchy.
In 2016, Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, slammed the practice of churches going in for noisy and pompous feast celebrations and appealed to the faithful to put curbs on fireworks, trade and cooking meals in church premises and turn feasts into occasions of simplicity and devotion.
The cardinal wanted the faithful to give a makeover to traditional festivals. He noted that people could not pray in peace and tranquility amid firecrackers and loudspeaker announcements during festival days.
“In an atmosphere of fireworks, band sets and mike announcements, people are unable to pray peacefully, communicate and grow in fellowship. Churches are arranging band sets, fireworks and mike announcements and colorful electric illumination to attract more people to the feast celebration. The increase and intensity of these things destroy the intention of feast celebrations. It seems the organizers are keen to increase the offerings or income from the feast celebration every year. The increase in offerings/ income seems to be the measure to determine the success of the feast,” the cardinal stated.
Kerala has witnessed several fireworks accidents that killed hundreds.
The deadliest was on April 10, 2016, at Paravur Puttingal Devi temple in Kollam that killed more than 100 people. As many as 68 people were killed in a fire accident in 1952 at Sabarimala, Kerala’s most popular Hindu shrine.
So far, more than 400 firework mishaps that claimed many lives have been reported from the southern Indian stat.
In 2006, 24 persons were killed in as many mishaps. A total of 42 persons were killed in 38 mishaps in 2007, 49 persons in 2008, 57 persons in 2009, 66 persons in 2010 and 58 persons in 2011.