2 Dead, 223 Injured from Beijing Fireworks

Xinhua reports on casualties from Beijing’s traditional New Year fireworks barrage:

The dead, two men, were killed respectively in the explosion while setting off shoddy fireworks in the early hours of Thursday, the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, according to a statement from the Beijing Municipal Office on Fireworks and Firecrackers.

Another 223 suffered injuries ranging from eye injuries to being burned as of 2 p.m. Thursday, it said.

The Chinese set off fireworks and firecrackers to welcome the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, following the tradition of using loud fireworks to ward off evil spirits. At the peak hours, usually midnight of New Year Eve, residents rush to the doorstep or the roadside to ignite explosives, filling the air with a strong smell of sulfur and thick smoke.

But the festivities cause misery every year, with injuries and fires ignited by the spark.

In Beijing Tongren Hospital, 78 of the 85 patients injured by fireworks received treatment for eye injuries, and children accounted for one-quarter of the injured, said Lu Hai, a doctor with Tongren Hospital.

For those unfamiliar with the Somme-like bombardment, Sinocism‘s Bill Bishop posted an audio taster, while a CCTV report (in Chinese) gives an aerial view of the celebrations which gets increasingly dramatic towards the end.

Also damaged by the displays was a five-star hotel in Shenyang which caught fire from stray fireworks, echoing the destruction of a hotel near CCTV’s Beijing headquarters in 2009.


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