An eight-year-old girl died after a large bottle rocket firework hit her in the throat, Taitung County police said yesterday.
They said the girl and her siblings were watching some teenaged neighbors set off “Apply Rockets” on Monday night on a road near their home. One of the rockets went sideways instead of up into the air, hitting the girl, who was standing a short distance away.
The girl’s aunt and neighbors tried to staunch the heavy bleeding before the child was taken to a surgical clinic, police said.
She was later transferred to Taitung Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 10pm, they said.
Her parents were in Hualien County at the time of the incident and rushed back, but did not make it before she died — and broke down at the hospital when they saw her body, police said.
The teenager who allegedly set off the rocket told police he and his friends had placed the rockets in empty beer bottles to set them off, and one of the rockets hit the girl, who was 5m or 6m away.
He denied having deliberately aimed the firework at the girl, saying he could not remember whether the beer bottle fell down as the rocket went off, police said.
Police said Apply Rockets are 30cm long with a hard plastic casing at the top and carry a warning label saying that the rocket must not be aimed at people or animals and that people should stand at least 10m away from where the fireworks are being set off.
They said the rockets are top-heavy and can easily topple over if launched from a bottle.
The store that allegedly sold the fireworks to the teenagers denied selling the rockets to people less than 18 years old, police said.
Police said they are investigating whether the fireworks are legal and whether the manufacturer or the store that sold the fireworks should bear some responsibility for the incident.
Additional reporting by CNA