Local police officials said the explosives will be defused tomorrow after the Kerala High Court decides whether to ban firework displays at all temples. That request has been made by a serving judge.
Fireworks used regularly at temples in Kerala are often made locally by amateurs, with safety checks compromised and illegal chemicals used.
10,000 people were present at the Puttingal Devi temple, about 70 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, to watch a fireworks display at a major annual festival late on Saturday night.
Suddenly, a cracker fell onto a shed where the fireworks were stored, sparking a string of powerful explosions that blew the roof off the administrative block of the temple and caused another building to collapse.
Several trustees of the temple where the fire ravaged the crowd are reportedly missing. A police case has been filed against six people - five of them are missing, the sixth is hospitalised with injuries.
Chief Minister Oomen Chandy and local officials have said that temple officials had been denied permission for the fireworks display but went ahead anyway.
Kerala is in the middle of its election - it votes on May 16 and campaigning is on. "There was no permission to even store the fireworks," said Mr Chandy.
Kerala is studded with temples managed by rich and powerful trusts that often violate regulations. Today, the Travancore Devaswom Board, in charge of nearly 1,000 temples, said it will not obey a ban on fireworks, and that it is up to the government to ensure public safety.
The Puttingal temple was built on the site of an ant hill where locals believe a goddess appeared centuries ago.
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