Severely injured victims of the Puttingal Devi temple tragedy groaning in pain and inconsolable relatives waiting to receive bodies of their near ones were some of the scenes witnessed at various hospitals, including Government Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.
While one more person admitted to the Intensive Care Unit died at the MCH on Monday morning, eight other victims, who had been under treatment at local hospitals in Kollam, were brought here, health department officials said.
A total of 66 victims, including six women, are undergoing treatment at various ICUs and wards at the MCH, they said, adding that a number of persons are also under observation.
The bodies of six patients, kept at the MC mortuary, are yet to be identified and a DNA test is expected to be soon conducted on them, they said.
Relatives and friends gathered at the mortuary to receive bodies of their near ones, said they were yet to come to terms with the shock inflicted on them by the unexpected tragedy.
Soman, a 68-year-old daily wage labour, broke into tears when he received the body of his nephew Vinod Kumar, who lost his life after being severely injured in the fire explosion.
A native of nearby Kaniyapuram, the 34-year-old Vinod had gone to watch the fireworks display with his eight friends.
“Both his limbs were seriously mangled. Concrete pieces had pierced his body. I am yet to come up with the fact that he has gone for ever. I don’t know how to console his two little kids and wife,” a weeping Soman said.
Besides those who suffered burn injuries, there are a large number of patients who sustained critical fractures after being hit by concrete chunks as the two buildings, including the store, housing the fireworks and explosive materials collapsed.
Sunil, a native of Payichira near Kollam, said he had a narrow escape during the tragedy, but his two friends were admitted at the ICU with serious fractures in the backbone and thighs.
“Everything was over in a fraction of a second. Dark fumes engulfed the surroundings and we could not see anything for some minutes. Luckily I was many metres away from the fireworks. But my friends stood nearby and were severely injured,” he said.
Hospital staff said 27-year-old Deepu Kumar, who suffered blood clotting in his lungs after concrete slabs pierced his body, has to take bed rest for many months and cannot go for any work.
“Concrete slabs had pierced his chest and lungs. It seems that he will be in bed for many months. But the problem is that there is nobody to look after him as his parents are separated and living away from him,” his neighbour said.
Lissy, mother of Ajith, who sustained minor injuries, said her son had escaped, though he was standing nearby the fireworks display.
“It was nothing but a miracle. My son was standing just near the fireworks display site. But he was thrown to a distance with minor injuries,” she said.
Of the total 134 victims, who sought treatment at MCH since Sunday, 14 died so far, hospital sources said.
Image: A relative sits next to the bed of a victim, who got injured in a fire at a temple at a hospital in Kollam. Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters