NEW DELHI: “When I opened my eyes after hearing the first blast, all I saw was a fireball in front of me. Nothing…nothing more…just a fireball,” one of the eyewitnesses told PTI, as she recounted the terrifying moments following an explosion in Kerala‘s Kalamassery town on Sunday morning.
“I was standing at the side of the hall, praying with my eyes closed.Suddenly, a shocking blast was heard from nearby. I saw only fire around and ran to the door along with others,” PTI quoted a 70-year-old man as saying.

Kerala: Major explosion strikes Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention in Kalamassery, NIA team rushed

The incident happened at the Convention centre during a gathering of about 2,000 people belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian religious group that originated in the US in the 19th century. The Centre was previously known for hosting weddings.
Another woman at the incident site, struggled to find the strength to recall the events during the prayers. “There were several elderly people and children among the participants,” she said, her voice quivering with emotion.
Scores were injured and two women were killed, as the sound of the blasts forced people to run helter-skelter to save their lives.

Convention centre blast in Kerala’s Kochi: What we know so far

Here are the big developments in the story so far —
Man surrenders in connection with case
A man claiming to be a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses put up a video message on a social media platform claiming responsibility for the multiple blasts at a Christian religious gathering at Kalamassery here on Sunday morning.
Identifying himself as Martin in the video, which was aired on various TV channels, the man alleged that he took the decision as the teachings of the organisation were “seditious.”
No one from the organisation has reacted to his allegations.

Meanwhile, a person claiming to be a member of the religious group told a TV channel that no such person was part of their organisation presently.
Explosives packed in a tiffin box
It is suspected that tiffin boxes were used for packing the explosives, the source said. Meanwhile, the blast site is being examined by multiple agencies, including the state anti-terrorism squad and the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
A police source also told PTI that there were three blasts, of which two were strong and the third was of low intensity.

Kochi blast: One man surrenders before police, claims role in explosion

The DGP, meanwhile, said he cannot say anything at this stage, and only after further investigation can he confirm whether it was a terror act.
“Only after the investigation can I confirm the details. We are examining all the angles. We will find out who is behind this and take stringent action against them,” the top police official said.
Kerala CM and governor express condolences
The incident was termed as “shocking” by Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and “extremely unfortunate” by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
“Shocked to hear about the blast at a religious gathering at #Kalamassery, Ernakulam district, Kerala, killing one person and injuring over 20. “Heartfelt condolences to the kin of the deceased and prayers for speedy recovery of the injured,” the Governor said in a post on social media platform X.
Home minister speaks to Kerala CM
Union home minister Amit Shah took stock of the situation in the state during a phone call with Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
(With inputs from agencies)

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