Sat, Jan 02, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Five killed and 600 injured in Philippine New Year’s revelry

AFP , MANILA

At least five people were killed and about 600 others were injured in traditional riotous New Year’s Eve revelry involving fireworks and guns across the Philippines, officials said yesterday.

A five-year-old boy and his mother were killed after being trapped inside their family-owned pyrotechnics store that went up in flames just hours before midnight on Thursday in Gingoog City on southern Mindanao island, police said.

The inferno started when the boy’s father and uncle tested a firecracker inside the store, setting off a chain reaction, police said.

The boy was sleeping inside the store and his mother rushed into the flames in a failed bid to save him, while a store helper also perished, police said.

In Zamboanga City also on Mindanao, another two revelers were killed and five others injured when a footbridge collapsed as they converged to watch a fireworks show minutes before midnight, police said.

Elsewhere in the Philippines, another 571 people were injured by firecrackers and 26 by stray bullets, Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

“Thirty-six cases, or 6 percent, had blast burn injuries [that needed] amputation” of mangled fingers or limbs, Duque told a press conference.

Duque said this year’s New Year’s Eve injuries were less than last year, when 683 people were wounded by firecrackers and 17 by stray bullets. He said the lower firecracker-related injuries may be attributed to the government’s “scare tactics.”

These included television ads that showed gruesome images of severely mangled limbs and a tray of surgical instruments used in the amputation of a limb.

Making noise by exploding firecrackers and firing guns into the air are common ways of greeting the New Year in the Philippines.

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