More than 200 people have been injured by illegal firecrackers and celebratory gunfire in the Philippines despite a government scare campaign against reckless New Year revelries,officials said Saturday.
Stray bullets wounded eight people and 197 were injured by powerful firecrackers,Health Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag said,adding that more than half of the victims were children. At least 14 had to undergo amputations,mostly of fingers,because of their injuries.
Officials fear the number of injuries may rise as superstitious Filipinos bid goodbye to a year of natural disasters and economic uncertainty.
Many Filipinos,largely influenced by Chinese tradition,believe that noisy New Years celebrations drive away evil and misfortune. But they have carried that superstition to extremes,exploding huge firecrackers and firing guns to welcome the new year despite threats of arrest. One particularly huge triangular firecracker is labeled Goodbye Philippines.
Although the number of injuries has tapered off in recent years,largely due to hard economic times and the governments scare campaign,the figures remain alarming. Doctors are waiting with surgical saws,bone cutters and drills in case your fingers need to be amputated, Tayag told the ABS-CBN network to dissuade illegal fireworks. I hope this wont happen.
Dozens of hospitals were on full alert,their emergency rooms staffed with trauma doctors for the expected influx of injured revelers. The government has gone to extremes to discourage dangerous celebrations. The health department has shown gory pictures of mangled hands and eyes in posters in the past but the violent tradition has nevertheless continued.