Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi were among those who visited the area of the firecracker explosion in Paravur that claimed the lives of 107 people on Sunday.
The Prime Minister, who arrived at the spot by around 4.10 p.m., took stock of the extent of the damage at the premises of the Puttingal Devi Temple.
Accompanied by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Mr. Modi inspected the debris of the Devaswom Board building and the storage room for firecrackers, both of which collapsed in the blast. He also inspected the damage suffered by the temple building.
After having a brief conversation with Mr. Chandy and others including Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash, he wound up the visit that lasted around 10 minutes by leaving for the Kollam District Hospital, where several injured were being treated.
He then went to the Ashramam Government Guest House and reviewed the arrangements made by the State government to manage the disaster.
Later, Mr. Chandy told reporters that the Prime Minister had offered to airlift the victims to any hospital of their choice and the government would bear the entire medical expenses. The Centre had also deployed a team of doctors to address the crisis.
Mr. Chandy said that the Centre has announced a relief of Rs. 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to the injured.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had informed of declaring the incident a national disaster, he said that it has already drawn national attention and many people have come forward with assistance for the affected.
Nearly, an-hour-and-a-half later, Mr. Gandhi also reached the spot. He was greeted by a host of party leaders including Mr. Chennithala, Mr. Prakash, Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan, Rajmohan Unnithan, Bindu Krishna and Shanimol Usman. He concluded his visit after inspecting the debris and discussing the issue with those who accompanied him. Mr. Gandhi then visited the injured at the hospital in the evening. Later, he told reporters that he would demand the government to enforce safety norms for pyrotechnics display and also to declare the tragedy a national disaster. Congress leader A.K. Antony, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar, KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran and other leaders accompanied Mr. Gandhi.