on Sept. 3, 2010
ISKCON News Exclusive
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.”
The UK’s Sky News is calling the escape “A miracle.” You can iew their helicopter footage of the aftermath here: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20100903/video/vuk-miracle-e...
We are following this story closely at ISKCON News, and will continue to update it as more information becomes known. If you were in the area, witnessed the explosion, or have any information that you would like to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.