It was about 4:30 in the evening when I heard this *huge* banging noise - as if somebody had hit really hard on our front door. When you hear a big sound with no indication as to its origin, you are gripped by a strange fear - was it an earthquake, or had somebody burst a bomb nearby, had one of the giant transformers at the nearby `power house' caught fire and exploded ??? I ran out trying to figure out the puzzle, and was met by equally puzzled neighbours - one of them felt his whole house shaking - another had witnessed the strange spectacle of photographs hanging on the wall swinging - undoubtedly, this was an earthquake, we decided. But a few labourers employed by BSNL to dig up the roadside and lay underground cables refuted our claim; they said they had seen smoke coming up from afar - it was then that the thought of the oncoming Pooram and the huge stock of fireworks which must be stored at some place in Trichur came into our mind; our worst fear was confirmed a few minutes later when a friend rang up to say that the building which was used to stock the fireworks (at nearby Padukkad) had caught fire! As the place was very nearby, Justin reached there immediately on his bike and rang me up - he said that the site of the explosion presented a gruesome picture - he could see human body parts scattered all over the place. There were about 12 people in the immediate vicinity of the site - four are confirmed dead and many are said to be missing. The impact of the explosion was felt even in places 4-5 kilometers away!
This is the biggest tragedy in the history of the Trichur Pooram fireworks - and it is high time that the authorities ban perhaps THE most insane act of `celebration' you would witness anywhere in civilized society. Trichur town (like all other towns in Kerala) is small and *very* densely populated - every year in summer, the enlightened citizens of this place get together and decide to turn the ground at the very centre of the town into a testing ground for high-caliber explosives. I too had witnessed this spectacle once, as a child, from very close quarters and was horrified by what I saw and heard. It's high time that we stop such foolishness - but then, the people of Trichur consider the Pooram (and the associated fireworks display) as some kind of `prestige' issue and you are going to become very unpopular here if you ever mention anything against the fireworks. That might be reason why the local newspaper (I finished reading it just now) which has very detailed reports on the tragedy doesn't contain even one article which questions the logic of this `explosive' exercise.