India temple blast kills at least 100

NEW DEHLI - An explosion and blaze sparked by fireworks have killed at least 100 people at a Hindu temple in the Indian state of Kerala, police say.

The fireworks exploded as thousands of people had gathered to celebrate a local new year festival. More than 200 were injured.

A building at the temple then collapsed, causing many of the deaths.

An investigation has been ordered as officials say permits for the display had been refused after safety fears.

In pictures: India temple fire

The explosion happened at about 03:30 (22:00 GMT Saturday), hours after the event started, in the coastal town of Paravur, in Kollam district.

There were scenes of chaos as emergency teams were slow in reaching the area, witnesses said. Rescue teams used bulldozers to clear the area looking for survivors.

A team of specialist doctors has been sent from Delhi amid reports of horrific burns suffered by those wounded. Several people were said to be in critical condition in hospitals.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has flown to Kerala, said the incident was "heart-rending and shocking beyond words".

Many of the dead were charred beyond recognition and would have to be identified by DNA tests, Kerala police chief TP Senkumar said.

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