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1 dead in Philippines firecracker mishaps

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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 on Wednesday.


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 on Wednesday morning, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.


The number was down 35 per cent from 251 cases in the same period in2018, 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 January 1, 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.


Philippine authorities had on Tuesday urged Filipinos to shun the use of firecrackers in New Year’s Eve celebrations to avoid accidents. Mishaps with firecrackers have left 62 people injured in the past 11 days.


The Department of Health said the latest victim was a 13-year-old boy in the northern province of Nueva Ecija, who lost two fingers after igniting a cylinder-type firecracker.


The number of injuries, recorded from December 21 to 31, was up 3 per cent from the same period last year, according to Health Secretary Duque. “This is not a good sign,” he said. “This might mean that the incidents might continue to increase.” Duque added that since it was not expected to rain during New Year’s Eve, “people might be tempted to explode more firecrackers.” — Agencies.


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