New Year’s firecrackers in the Philippines left one man dead and hundreds injured after residents ignored government warnings about the dangerous devices.
Ronald Vericio died after shouting ‘goodbye Philippines’ as the firecracker
exploded late last night, officials confirmed.
The noisy crackers, which are believed by many in the country to drive away bad luck, also set fire to more than 1,000 huts in Manila after revellers accidentally fired a rocket into an abandoned hut.
An eight-year-old boy in the northern farming province of Nueva Vizcaya had three of his fingers amputated after a firecracker exploded in his hands, the country’s health secretary Janet Garin said.
At least nine children had their fingers amputated due to firecracker injuries, she added.
Officials also promoted professional firework displays at shopping centres and in cities in a desperate bid to stop residents putting on their own shows.
Garin today called for a ban on all firecrackers and said the injury figures were ‘alarming’.
She also speculated the toll could have been considerably higher if the weather was better. Last year, more than 850 people were injured.
Elsewhere in the Philippines, 200 huts were razed to the ground after a separate fire spread.
A large religious group, Iglesia ni Cristo, said it set off more than 700,000 pyrotechnic devices to try to break a Guinness record for the largest fireworks display.
Tens of thousands of church members and other revelers watched the spectacle in Bocaue town in Bulacan province, north of Manila.
Meanwhile, an annual procession of the Black Nazarene – a wooden statue of Jesus Christ – was held a day earlier than usual on New Year’s Eve to prevent injuries from mounds of trash and unexploded firecrackers.