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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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U.S., India, Japan & Australia complete Malabar exercise

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U.S., India, Japan & Australia complete Malabar exercise | Diya TV News

MALABAR ISLANDS, India (Diya TV) — Maritime forces from the U.S., India, Japan and Australia completed Phase II of the exercises dubbed Malabar in the Arabian Sea. The U.S. State Department thanked India in a tweet for hosting the effort by “The Quad” that promotes a free and open Indo-Pacific against a growing Chinese presence in the region.

The state of Michigan officially certified its election, formally granting President-Elect Biden its 16 electoral votes. And while President Trump continues to litigate in the hopes of overturning the outcome of the election, to date, he’s lost more than 30 cases. And now the General Services Administration informed the President-Elect he will be able to get the funding and documents needed  to start the formal transition in government.

Indian American Mala Adiga was appointed by President-Elect Joe Biden to be the Policy Director for his wife Jill, who will be the First Lady. Adiga is an alum of the Obama administration, as well as the Biden Foundation.

Pakistani American Dr. Umair Shah was appointed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to be Washington State’s Secretary of Health. Shah currently serves as executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health in Texas. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Modi thanks troops for thwarting terror plot

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Modi thanks troops for thwarting terror plot | Diya TV News

JAMMU and KASHMIR, India (Diya TV) — Indian Prime Minister Modi thanked security forces for unraveling a terrorist plot by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad. Four men suspected of plotting a new attack on the anniversary of the 26/11 attacks were killed during a gunfight with Indian armed forces at a checkpoint in Jammu. Their truck was loaded with a cache of weapons and explosives. Modi is now reviewing the security apparatus along the international border and the Line of Control with Pakistan amid this infiltration.

Terrorism was a major theme of the annual BRICS summit featuring Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was hosted by Russia virtually. Prime Minister Modi said terrorism is the biggest challenge world is facing today, adding “countries that support the terrorists are held accountable.” Russian President Vladmir Putin said India and China may start producing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19.

Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, tested positive for coronavirus. His father and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and many others in the Trump inner circle have had the virus over the last few months. A spokesman said Trump Jr. learned his diagnosis earlier this week, but has no symptoms and is quarantining in his cabin.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Senators Warner, Cornyn talk US-India relations to USIBC

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Senators Warner, Cornyn talk US-India relations to USIBC | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — China as it relates to the U.S. and India was a central topic of conversation at the USIBC Post-Election Perspectives virtual conference. Democratic Senator Mark Warner, Republican Senator John Cornyn in conversation with former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma both conveyed how India’s importance to the U.S. is increasing in terms of security and economic opportunity moving forward. Both Senators were confident bilateral ties between the world’s two largest democracies would continue to strengthen under a Biden administration. Cornyn and Warner are co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus.

Elections officials in Georgia called the presidential race for President-elect Joe Biden after a hand recount recertified the results. The vote discrepancy totaled in the hundreds and not thousands needed for President Trump to change the outcome. Biden will be awarded the state’s 16 electoral votes. The Trump campaign continues to dispute the outcome and says they will continue to pursue all legal options.

And the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Anthony Edwards #1 overall in the NBA Draft. The Golden State Warriors picked big man James Wiseman #2, but lost NBA champion & sharpshooter Klay Thompson for the year to an Achilles injury

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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