What was intended to be celebratory turned out to be tragic when stray bullets and exploding firecrackers killed one person and injured more than 300 as the Philippines rang in the New Year. A blaze set off by firecrackers gutted close to 1,000 shanties in Manila.
According to Health Secretary Janet Garin, the dead man, identified as Ronald Vericio, was drunk when he tried to hug a dynamite-like firecracker called "Goodbye Philippines" on New Year's Eve. Doctors attempted to revive Vericio but to no avail.
The health department listed 380 official injuries due to fireworks and four others due to stray bullets which they say could go up as the day progresses. Meanwhile, fire officials said a rocket lit by revellers set ablaze an abandoned hut and sparked a fire that razed the shanties in Manila. Residents fled their homes carrying whatever little they could while desperately trying to put out the fire with buckets of water.
Injuries during New Year celebrations are not new to the Philippines where illegal firecrackers go unchecked. This year, 384 injuries were recorded, up from 354 last year. Superstitions in the country promote loud, noisy and powerful firecrackers. Many believe that they drive away bad luck and evil.