The police will try to find out who took the decision to go ahead with the competitive fireworks despite the Kollam district administration refusing permission on paper.
The explosion happened at about 03:30 (22:00 GMT Saturday), hours after the event started in Kollam district.
Kerala’s Director General of Police TP Senkumar confirmed the detentions to news agency ANI, but it wasn’t clear who the people detained were.
The explosion was so strong that it had blown off the roof of the administrative building within the complex. “My thoughts are with families of the deceased & prayers with the injured”.
Modi has faced public criticism for failing to respond quickly to disasters such as the floods in Chennai late past year. People were running everywhere, and burnt bodies were on the ground.
The incident occurred at Puttingal temple in Kollam district’s Paravoor town – about 40 miles north of state capital Thiruvananthapuram – early Sunday after an illegal fireworks display went awry during a religious festival.
The fireworks festivities can not be cancelled, he said, adding it was an age-old tradition.
But Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party said he was focused on the task in hand.
Additional Director General of Police, Crime Branch, Ananathakrishnan would again visit the spot this morning to take stock of the situation, an official release said.
Kerala houses many temples that are maintained by wealthy trusts with vast power and influence.
Each year temples carry out fireworks displays, often competing to stage the most spectacular ones. Complaints were filed against both contractors for storing fireworks in the temple without permission and for storing more fireworks than allowed.
Preliminary inquiries by the police revealed that sparks from an ignited high-intensity pyrotechnic display spread to a storehouse (Kambapura) adjoining the temple, where a large cache of explosives was stored, resulting in a massive blast.
“We had informed the police that three cars were in the temple compound and one of them is loaded with explosives, which might have shifted from the Puttingal Temple following the incident”.