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More than 100 dead in fireworks explosion

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A view of a collapsed building after a massive fire broke out during a fireworks display at the Puttingal temple complex in Paravoor village, north of Thiruvananthapuram, India, on April 10, 2016.

A view of a collapsed building after a massive fire broke out during a fireworks display at the Puttingal temple complex in Paravoor village, north of Thiruvananthapuram, India, on April 10, 2016.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Officials on Monday continued to sift through a Hindu temple in Southern India where at least 110 people have been reportedly killed during a fireworks display — the unauthorized pyrotechnics pummeled through the temple that was packed with thousands of people for a religious festival.

The death toll so far from the fire on Sunday at the Puttingal Devi temple complex in the village of Paravoor, stood at 110 people with nearly another 400 injured, said police officer, Unnikrishnan.

Initial blasts cut the power, sending scores of people running, other explosions followed raining the grounds with flaming debris. Several people were trapped in the chaos, one witness said.

“It was complete chaos,” said Krishna Das of Paravoor. “People were screaming in the dark. Ambulance sirens went off, and in the darkness no one knew how to find their way out of the complex.”

The fire was sparked after fireworks employed for the show ignited a separate batch of fireworks that were being stored in the temple complex, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said. Chandy is the top elected official in Kerala state. Police were also searching for 15 people of the temple board who fled after the incident. Additionally, police are investigating possible charges of culpable homicide, punishable with life imprisonment, and illegally storing a cache of explosives.

The majority of the 110 deaths occurred when the building where the fireworks were being stored collapsed, Chandy said. More than 80 of the bodies have been identified, and TimesNow, an Indian television station, has reported the death toll at 112. Villagers in the area said they saw police pulling bodies out from under slabs of concrete and twisted steel in the wreckage.

Indian officials gather beside a collapsed building as they try to rescue survivors after an explosion and fire at The Puttingal Devi Temple in Paravur early April 10, 2016.

Indian officials gather beside a collapsed building as they try to rescue survivors after an explosion and fire at The Puttingal Devi Temple in Paravur early April 10, 2016.

One of the explosions sent huge chunks of concrete flying as far as a kilometer (half a mile), said Jayashree Harikrishnan, another resident.

The temple holds a competitive fireworks show every year, with several different groups putting on displays for the thousands of gathered guests. The fireworks display coincides with the end of the seven-day festival honoring the goddess Bhadrakali, a southern Indian incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali.

This year, however, authorities denied temple officials permission to hold the fireworks display, said A. Shainamol, the district’s top official.

“They were clearly told that no permission would be given for any kind of fireworks,” Shainamol told reporters.

The permission was denied after fears the groups going to extremes to outcompete each other would be dangerous for the large crowd in attendance. The temple gets overcrowded during the festival, Shainamol said.

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Rep. Jayapal introduces bipartisan Kashmir resolution

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Jayapal

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — Democratic Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal introduced bipartisan legislation in the House asking India to preserve religious freedom for all, reopen all communications & release those detained without charge in Jammu & Kashmir. Jayapal also celebrated the release of Dr. Mubeen Shah, a Kashmiri business leader who was detained, she was instrumental in helping. Meanwhile, the Indian government announced there is no movement restriction in Jammu & Kashmir, transportation services are normal, as are schools, government offices and courts. In addition, India says all landlines have been restored throughout the region, but broadband continues to be limited on mobile devices in Kashmir.

A 23 year old woman who was set on fire in Uttar Pradesh while heading to testify against her alleged rapists died in a New Delhi hospital burn unit. Police have the five suspects allegedly involved in the attack in custody.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Suspects in Hyderabad gang rape murder killed by police

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Suspects in Hyderabad gang rape murder killed by police | Diya TV News

Hyderabad, India (Diya TV)  — Four suspects in the rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad were killed by police, who claim the four men were shot in self-defense. The action is drawing praise from the family of the victim but criticism from some lawmakers and civil rights groups.

Protests erupted in India this week seeking justice for this latest victim of sexual assault. Earlier in the week, a 23-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh heading to testify against a man who allegedly raped her multiple times was set on fire by a group of five men she says included her rapist, who was free on bail. She remains in critical condition.

In a terse letter denouncing impeachment proceedings, The White House signaled it does not intend to mount a defense of President Trump or otherwise participate in the House impeachment hearings. The decision by the administration likely accelerates the pace of impeachment. Hearings continue Monday.

Texas Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher introduced legislation to honor Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal’s memory by renaming a post office in Houston in his honor.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indian rape survivor set on fire before trial testimony

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Rape

UNNAO, India (Diya TV)  — A 23-year-old woman in India heading to testify against a man who allegedly raped her multiple times was set on fire by a group of five men she says included her rapist, who was free on bail. Doctors at the Lucknow hospital she was brought to say she is in very serious condition, with burn injuries to 90% of her body. Local police say all five suspects are in custody. India’s National Commission for Women are seeking a detailed report regarding the number of reported heinous crimes committed against women and bail granted in such cases.

Nithyananda, a popular guru that faces charges of abduction and rape in India, announced he was establishing the Republic of Kailaasa on an island off the coast of Ecuador, which he claims will be the “world’s greatest and purest Hindu nation,” with promises of free education, free healthcare, free food and the revival of the temple based lifestyle, In addition to facing charges in Gujarat over multiple allegations, French authorities are investigating Nithyananda after one of his French devotees complained the guru had cheated him out of $400,000.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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