One dead, over 160 hurt in fires, firecracker mishaps in Philippines

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  • Wednesday, 01 Jan 2020

Filipinos firing off fireworks as they celebrate the coming of the New Year on Wednesday (Jan) in Manila, Philippines. Filipinos welcome the New Year with noise and firecrackers in the belief that this will drive away bad spirits and bring in good luck.- AP

MANILA: One person was killed and more than 160 people were injured in fires and other firecracker-related accidents during the Christmas and New Year holidays in the Philippines, officials said Wednesday (Jan 1).

At least four incidences of fire broke out in metro Manila amid New Year’s Eve revelry, leaving more than 3,000 people homeless, the Bureau of Fire Protection said.

One woman was killed when she was trapped in the bathroom of her burning house in a fire that struck a residential and commercial area in Pasig City, officials said.

Authorities were still determining the causes of the fires and whether firecrackers were to be blame.

The Department of Health recorded at least 164 injuries from firecrackers between December 21 and early Wednesday morning, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

The number was down 35% from 251 cases in the same period in 2018, he said.

"The ideal scenario is for us to target zero injury from firecracker-related incidents," Duque told a press conference.

"Even if the reduction has been quite substantial, it is not enough."

Police said they arrested 21 people for illegal discharge of firearm from December 16 to early morning of Jan1, injuring seven people.

Filipinos traditionally set off fireworks and some also fire guns into the air in the belief that the noise drives away bad luck and attracts good fortune for the coming year.

In previous years, injuries ran up to the hundreds and some deaths were recorded, mostly from stray bullet cases.

The ages of the victims this yea ranged from 1 to 71 years old, and more than half or 104 cases involved victims 15 years old and younger. Males were also injured more than women, comprising 70% of the cases.

Blast or burn injuries comprised 71% of the cases, eye injuries 26%, and blasts and burns requiring amputation 4%.

The victims were from Metro Manila (84), Calabarzon (13), Ilocos Region (12), Central Luzon (11), Cagayan Valley (10), and Western Visayas (10). Though it remains on top on the list of firework-related injuries, Metro Manila recorded a 16% decrease from figures in 2018.

Duque attributed the decrease to Executive Order No. 28 restricting the use of firecrackers to community fireworks displays authorized by local governments.

In October 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to crack down on the illegal sale and manufacturing of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices. - Asian News Network

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