Kollam Temple Fire- Entertainment & Disasters by Fireworks

What are fireworks? Fireworks are Pyrotechnic articles designed for aesthetics and entertainment purposes, which sometimes ends up in disasters.

The tragedy which struck early morning on 10 April 2016 during a temple ceremony killed 114 people and injured more than 350. Puttingal Temple in Kollam, India, was celebrating the final 7th day of a religious festival in which two sets of group of devotees were doing competitive display of fireworks.

At around 0330 local time a firework when ignited went and fell onto a storage area where a large stash of fireworks was stored for upcoming Vishu Celebration falling on 14th April. This triggered a huge uncontrolled fire and blasts resulting in collapsing of two buildings and majority of fatalities. The blast was felt more than a kilometer from the temple.

In response to Kollam fireworks disaster Southern Naval Command of Indian Navy dispatched hospital ships, Transport Aircraft and helicopters with medical teams and supply. Indian Prime Minister visited the site and those undergoing treatment brining in burn injury specialists from Delhi along with him.

There are many fireworks accidents which has resulted in fatalities, injuries and major loss of properties, some of which are:

  • Benton, Tennessee (May, 1983) = 7 killed, 1 injured and caused damage within a radius of 7 miles.
  • Bright Sparklers, Sungai Buloh, Malaysia (May 1991) = 6 killed, more than 100 injured, damaged more than 200 houses
  • Enschede, the Netherlands (May 2000) = 23 killed, 947 injured, 400 homes and 1500 buildings damaged
  • Seest fireworks disaster, Seest, Denmark (November 2004) = 1 death, 17 injured, 2000 people evacuated
  • Istanbul fireworks explosion, Istanbul, Turkey (February 2008) = 22 killed, 100 injured
  • Sivakasi factory explosion, Sivakasi, India (September 2012) = 40 killed, more than 70 injured
  • Kollam temple fire, Kollam, India (April 2016) = 114 killed, more than 350 injured and most still going under treatment for burn injuries while writing this article.

Classification of Fireworks

Transport regulations classify fireworks under Class 1 Explosives; some fireworks are classified under below entries.

Fireworks Classification
Fireworks Classification

Division 1.1 is those which have mass explosion hazard

Division 1.2 is those which have projection hazard

Division 1.3 is those which have a fire hazard and either a minor blast hazard or a

minor projection hazard or both

Division 1.4 is those which present no significant hazard


The magnitude of Enschede fireworks disaster was so high that it prompted experts in Transport of Dangerous Goods to relook at the classification procedure of fireworks. The current IMDG Code has below provisions for correct classification of fireworks.

  • Fireworks to be assigned to division 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4 only on the basis of test data derived from Test Series 6 of the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria
  • Since the range of such articles is very extensive and the availability of test facilities may be limited, assignment to hazard divisions may also be made in accordance with the procedure in of IMDG Code.
  • Assignment of fireworks to UN Nos. 0333, 0334, 0335 or 0336 may be made on the basis of analogy, without the need for Test Series 6 testing, in accordance with the default fireworks classification table in of IMDG Code
  • Such assignment shall be made with the agreement of the competent authority. Items not specified in the table shall be classified on the basis of test data derived from Test Series 6 of the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria.
  • The classification shown in the table in of IMDG Code applies only for articles packed in fibreboard boxes (4G).


Sample entries in the table for Default fireworks classification

This table contains a list of firework classifications that may be used in the absence of Test Series 6, of the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria, data (see of IMDG Code).

Sample Default fireworks classification

Note 1: References to percentages in the table, unless otherwise stated, are to the mass of all pyrotechnic substances (e.g., rocket motors, lifting charge, bursting charge and effect charge).

Note 2: “Flash composition” in this table refers to pyrotechnic substances in powder form or as pyrotechnic units as presented in the fireworks, that are used to produce an aural effect, or used as a bursting charge or lifting charge, unless the time taken for the pressure rise is demonstrated to be more than 8 ms for 0.5 g of pyrotechnic substance in the HSL Flash Composition Test in Appendix 7 of the United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria.

Note 3: Dimensions in mm refers to:

– for spherical and peanut shells, the diameter of the sphere of the shell;

– for cylinder shells, the length of the shell;

– for a shell in mortar, Roman candle, shot tube firework or mine, the inside diameter of the tube comprising or containing the firework;

– for a bag mine or cylinder mine, the inside diameter of the mortar intended to contain the mine.

Further as per IMDG Code When fireworks of UN Nos. 0333, 0334, 0335, 0336 and 0337 are transported, the dangerous goods transport document shall include a classification reference(s) issued by the competent authority.

The classification reference(s) shall consist of the competent authority’s state, indicated by the distinguishing sign for motor vehicles in international traffic, the competent authority identification and a unique serial reference.

Examples of such classification references are:

– GB/HSE123456

– D/BAM1234

– USA EX20091234.