MANIILA, Philippines—Celebratory gunfire killed a four-year-old boy and more than 400 others were injured by powerful firecrackers in typically rowdy New Year celebrations in Metro Manila, officials said Tuesday.
As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, a total of 413 cases of firecracker-related injuries have been recorded, the Department of Health said. The figures were based on hospital records from December 21 to January 1.
About half of the victims were children, aged six to 10 years old, said Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
But Ona noted a 17 percent decline in the number of people injured by firecrackers and stray bullets compared with the previous year.
In Mandaluyong City, a boy died after a bullet hit him in the back as he was playing outside his home, said Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina of the National Capital Region Police Office.
Espina said police launched an investigation to trace the gun owner but admitted it may take time in a country where unlicensed firearms are widespread.
Seven others were hit by stray bullets, including seven-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella, who was in a “very critical condition,” said Ona.
Most injuries were due to fireworks with a total of 404 cases, eight from stray bullets and one from fireworks ingestion, he said.
Ona said that of the total number of injured people, 219 cases were due to prohibited firecrackers, with the infamous piccolo topping the list at 148.
In Valenzuela City, the leg of a 17-year-old male had to amputated after sustaining blast injuries due to the deadly firecracker Goodbye Philippines.
Nonetheless, the record, Ona said, was 17 percent lower compared to the same period last year with 498 fireworks-related injuries (476 from fireworks, 18 from stray bullets and four from fireworks ingestion).
Ona attributed the decline to a larger number of New Year countdown parties in different parts of Metro Manila, as well as Dr. Eric Tayag’s “Gangnam Style” dance campaign against firecrackers.
“Baka nga successful iyong ‘Gangnam’ dance ni Eric . . . Pwede ulitin natin iyon next year. Maghanap naman tayo ng ibang style,” Ona said.
Meanwhile, the fire department said 12 blazes were reported overnight, including a school that caught fire due to fireworks near a sprawling slum area in Manila.
No one was injured in the fires although dozens of families were left homeless, the fire department center said.
It is a tradition in the mostly Catholic nation of about 100 million to greet the New Year by making noise, in a belief it will drive bad spirits away. With Agence France-Presse