Beijing: Two people were killed and over
200 injured in Beijing by traditional fireworks set off to
celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year.
The two were killed in an explosion while setting off
shoddy fireworks in the early hours of yesterday, the first
day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the official media reported
quoting a statement from the Beijing Municipal Office. While
223 suffered injuries ranging from burns to their eyes and
other parts of the body, it said.
China formally bids goodbye to the year of "Tiger" on
February 2 and celebrated yesterday as the beginning of the
year of "Rabbit" as per the Zodiac calendar.
In many ways Chinese celebrate their new year much
like Diwali in India lighting variety of firecrackers to drive
away the evil spirits.
As per the rules, Chinese were permitted to light the
fireworks only during the New Year week after which it becomes
an offence to light the crackers without official permission.
"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 the hospital. "Some injured citizens are
unlucky passers by or bystanders."
Out of concerns over environmental pollution and
possible damages caused by fireworks, Beijing had banned
fireworks in urban districts since 1993, a policy that has
been followed by many Chinese cities, the official Xinhua news
agency reported. The ban was revoked in 2006, after the public
complained about the loss of festive atmosphere.
A new set of rules were enacted to restrict the time
and places for fireworks and firecrackers.
In 2009, an illegal fireworks display kindled a blaze
that consumed a building of the newly-built headquarters of
China Central Television (CCTV), killing one fireman and
injuring another eight.
In the wee hours yesterday, fire gutted a five-star
hotel in northeast Shenyang city. Police said the fire was
triggered by fireworks.