Sunday 25 September 2016

New Year firecrackers leave one dead and 380 injured as fire destroys 1,000 shacks in the Philippines

Published 01/01/2016 | 12:16

Residents pass water buckets to help extinguish a huge fire that razed a slum area overnight in Manila on January 1, 2016. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Residents pass water buckets to help extinguish a huge fire that razed a slum area overnight in Manila on January 1, 2016. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Local residents use water to try to fight a huge fire that razed a slum area in Manila on January 1, 2016. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A resident uses a water hose on the roof of a house as he tries to extinguish a fire at a residential district, amid New Year celebrations in Manila January 1, 2016. Reuters/Czar Dancel

New Year's firecrackers left at least one man dead and 380 others injured, causing a fire that destroyed 1,000 shacks in the Philippines despite rain and a government warning campaign.

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A drunken man lit a dynamite-like firecracker called "Goodbye Philippines" and embraced it in Manila as it exploded, killing him, Health Secretary Janet Garin announced.

Fire officials said a rocket lit by revellers set an abandoned hut ablaze, sparking a fire that razed shacks in Manila's Tondo slum district and displacing several thousand families.

Many superstitious Filipinos usher in the new year with powerful firecrackers, believing that noisy celebrations - largely influenced by Chinese tradition - drive away bad luck and evil.

Ms Garin said the number of injured, while still alarming, was less than half of last year's toll because of rain late on Thursday and a government scare campaign that involved showing gory pictures of past victims with their fingers ripped off by firecracker blasts.

The government has promoted fireworks shows sponsored by shopping centres, cities and even TV networks to discourage people from lighting their own firecrackers.

A large religious group, Iglesia ni Cristo, said it set off more than 700,000 devices to try to break a Guinness record for the largest fireworks display. Tens of thousands watched the spectacle in Bocaue town in Bulacan province, north of Manila.

Press Association

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