Police say 7 connected to India temple surrender after fire


PARAVUR: Seven people who fled after a weekend fire killed at least 116 people at the southern Indian temple where they are board members have surrendered to police to face prosecution, police said Tuesday.

Police officer Gupakumar said the seven were taken into custody late Monday after a two-day hunt by police.

Police are investigating temple board members and associates of firework contractors for possible charges of attempted murder and culpable homicide, both punishable by life imprisonment, and illegally storing a cache of explosives.

Besides the deaths in the early Sunday blaze at the Hindu Puttingal Devi temple complex in the village of Paravoor in Kerala state, more than 380 people were injured.

M. Palanai, another police officer, said that 200 of the injured were still being treated in various hospitals.

Rescue workers were sifting through the debris for clues about how an unauthorised fireworks display sparked the fire that swept through the temple as it was packed with thousands for a religious festival.

Police questioned five workers on Monday about fireworks stored at the site, hoping to learn more about who owned the fireworks and who had contracted the pyrotechnical display, police constable R. Unnikrishnan Nair said. The five were later released.

Villagers and police had to pull many of the injured out from under slabs of concrete and twisted steel girders.

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