New Year in Philippines kills 2, injures 599
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least two people were killed and nearly 600 others were injured by fireworks and gunfire in New Year celebrations in the Philippines, officials said Wednesday.
About 50 hospitals nationwide reported 599 injured from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1, a 43 percent jump from the same period last year, said Department of Health spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag.
In northern Cagayan province, a fireworks fountain display packed with firecrackers exploded and killed a 19-year-old man, while an infant boy was killed by a bullet that went through the roof of the family’s house in northern Ilocos Sur province.
Doctors in nearby Ilocos Norte province said another boy is fighting for his life after he was hit in the forehead by a bullet that is still lodged in his head.
The deaths and injuries come at the end of a year where several disasters hit the Philippines, including the Nov. 8 Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally called Yolanda, that left more than 6,100 dead and nearly 1,800 others missing.
“Many here are welcoming the new year after losing their mothers, fathers, siblings and children so you can imagine how it feels,” said village chief Maria Rosario Bactol of Anibong community in Tacloban, the city worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan.
Tayag said he expects the number of injuries to rise as the Health Department continues its count through Sunday.
Many Filipinos, largely influenced by Chinese tradition, believe that raucous New Year’s celebrations drive away evil and misfortune, and set off huge firecrackers and fire guns despite dangers and threats of arrest.
This year, there was even firecracker sold on the illegal market — Super Yolanda — which was named after the killer typhoon.
AP writer Jim Gomez contributed to this report.