Stray bullets and exploding firecrackers have killed one person and injured almost 200 others as the nation plunged into its annual chaotic New Year revelry, authorities said on Thursday.
Officials said 185 people have been treated for blast-related or gunshot injuries and one person has been shot dead since December 21.
A total of 37 cases were added to the previous 148 cases on the 10th day of the Department of Health’s (DOH) “Iwas-Paputok Injury Reduction 2015” campaign.
The annual tide of New Year injuries dropped in 2014, with 351 people hurt by fireworks and three hit by stray bullets, the lowest in five years.
The number of people who had to undergo amputations, however, rose to 14 from eight, including a five-year-old boy who lost his hand.
In the 2013 celebrations, at least two people were killed and 793 others were left injured.
Of the latest number of victims, 155 or 86 percent were males. A total of 135 sustained hand injuries and 20 head injuries.
Majority of the fireworks — totaling 149 — involved children less than 14 years old.
Of the total 185 injuries, at least three cases required amputations.
As usual, the illegal piccolo firecracker was the top cause, accounting for 133 injuries.
A total of 142 victims involved active igniters while the others were passive or did not ignite firecrackers themselves but were merely bystanders and innocent victims.
Revelers traditionally set off firecrackers, including potentially deadly types with names like “Goodbye Philippines,” “Hello Colombia” and obscure names like “Goodbye Bading (fag)” and fire guns into the air to celebrate the festive season.
“Our hospitals stand ready with manpower and equipment to deal with any unusual upsurge of casualties,” Health department spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy said.
Police said five civilians, a soldier and a policeman were arrested for illegally firing their guns.
Many Filipino civilians keep licensed guns in their homes to protect themselves in a high-crime society and most firecrackers are legal.
Meanwhile, one more case of stray bullet incident has been recorded while firework ingestion remains at zero level based on the reports submitted by DOH’s sentinel hospitals.
The latest stray bullet victim was a nine-year-old girl from Marikina City (Metro Manila) who was reported to have been hit in the left chest while watching television inside their house.
The Marikina Police Station said that the child screamed that she was shot, the bullet hitting her left chest.
The victim was taken to the Amang Rodriguez Medical Center on December 30 but was transferred to the Marikina Valley Hospital for surgery.
Majority of the cases were in the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) with a total of 85 cases, followed by Bicol Region with 31 cases and Regions 11 (Davao) and Region IV-A (Calabarzon) with 15 cases each.
Meanwhile, the earlier reported case of stray-bullet incident involving nine-year-old Lorena Cruz in Norzagaray, Bulacan, was removed from the list of stray bullet cases after police investigation revealed that the death of the child was caused by accidental firing allegedly by her own brother.
Investigation showed that the air gun of the girl’s brother went off when it fell after being hung on the wall and the bullet accidentally hit Lorena.
The DOH’s firecracker-related injuries surveillance and monitoring started last December 21 and will end on January 5.
The department has reminded those injured by firecrackers to have anti-tetanus shots to prevent fatal consequences.
AFP AND PNA