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Page added on September 4, 2010

Devotees’ Escape from Leicester Temple Explosion Dubbed “A Miracle”

4,031 views Devotees’ Escape from Leicester Temple Explosion Dubbed “A Miracle” thumbnail

Devotees at the ISKCON center in Leicester, England, were sitting down to enjoy a prasadam feast in honor of ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day at 1pm on Friday September 3rd—when they heard a loud hissing noise that sounded like a gas leak.

President Pradyumna Dasa and other leaders immediately evacuated the thirty devotees that were inside the temple.

They were just in time. Seconds later, a huge explosion blew the roof off of the kitchen area.

Two devotees were still inside the building during the blast. However, they escaped unscathed, and Pradyumna Dasa and Vinnay Tanna, ISKCON’s Communication Director for the UK, confirmed that while there were some minor injuries caused by falling glass and debris, no one was badly injured or killed.

“If devotees hadn’t evacuated just before the explosion, dozens would have died,” said Nimai Dasi, Pradyumna’s wife.

After the blast, devotees went back into the building and removed the murti of Srila Prabhupada and the bass relief forms of Pancha Tattva, who were also unharmed.

The fire, which centered around the kitchen, then spread throughout the rest of the building and completely destroyed the interior, including the living areas of the temple’s three resident devotees.

The Deities have been taken to a congregational member’s home and are being worshipped there.

The police have cordoned off the area due to the ongoing investigation. Meanwhile, many devotees from nearby ISKCON communities are congregating in Leicester to offer their support to their brothers and sisters who have just lost their place of worship.

“We’re all just so relieved that no one was hurt,” says Varshana Dasi, spokesperson for the Leicester temple. “Last night, we were celebrating Janmastami, Krishna’s appearance day, with over 1,500 guests, and lots of devotees in the kitchen. If it had happened then, many could have been injured or even killed. So we’re very fortunate.”

Firefighters said it was an “absolute miracle” no-one was killed in an explosion at a Hare Krishna temple.
The blast rocked the building after cylinders of gas powering a large cooker leaked during a festive meal.

About 30 people escaped from the temple in Leicester when the organiser raised the alarm just seconds before the explosion at about 2.30pm.

A third of the building in Thoresby Street was destroyed in the blast.

Worshippers had been cooking in the kitchen area during the afternoon for a religious festival, incident commander Bill Smith, of Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said.

He said: “Most of the guests were in and around a marquee area just outside the building. In the kitchen they had a large LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cylinder hooked up to a large gas ring.

“After the meal they disconnected the pipe from the cylinder but the cylinder kept leaking. The person who disconnected the cylinder realised the danger of the gas leaking. He ran out and got everybody to run over to the other side of the road. Within 30 seconds there was a large explosion. He has no doubt saved the lives of many people with his actions.”

When emergency services arrived it was unclear whether anyone was trapped inside, or underneath rubble left by the blast. Firefighters went into the building to conduct a search but it became too unstable to send more in. An urban search and rescue dog also scoured the wreckage but no-one was found.

Mr Smith said: “It’s an absolute miracle that nobody’s been injured or killed. You could tell how close people were because within about 10ft of the building were barbecue tables with food on.”

East Midlands Ambulance Service said four people, including a firefighter, were treated at the scene for minor injuries. The festivities were organised by Iskcon Leicester – the International Society for Krishna Consciousness – to mark Lord Krishna’s “Appearance Day”.


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