More than 400 people, mostly children, were injured while several houses went up in smoke as people in the Philippines celebrated New Year with exploding firecrackers and colorful fireworks.
Emergency wards of hospitals in Metro Manila were scenes of bloody injuries from explosions of illegal firecrackers with children and young adults comprising the majority victims.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the health department's appeal to parents to shield their children from firecracker injuries seems to have been ignored.
At least four victims injected fireworks, according to CNNAFP says two hospitals reported two children whose hands were badly injured may have to be aputated
“Again, it seems our appeal to mothers to keep their children away from firecrackers wasn’t effective,” Ona told a news conference.
The Health Secretary said he is willing to consider the total banning of firecrackers, but it needed to be studied further considering that firecracker-making provides employment to people who work in firecracker factories.
Exploding firecrackers during New Year Celebrations has been a long tradition in the country. It is believed the practice was largely influenced by Chinese tradition. They believe that the noise created by firecracker explosions drives away evil spirits and brings new hope for the coming year.
Some of the injured were hit by stray bullets from guns being fired up in the air to create noise as a way of celebrating the New Year. Police authorities have sealed the guns of the members of the national police forces to prevent them from firing their guns.
Apparently, not all members of the police forces have heeded the call of their superiors. Some private citizens with guns have been also identified in the past as source of bullets that hit innocent bystanders.
The New Year revelry also caused the cancellation of several local and international flights due to thick smoke that covered the airport in Manila.