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Philippine New Year firecrackers leave 1 dead, 380 injured

Published 01/01/2016

Firemen search through debris amidst still-smouldering houses following an early morning fire that engulfed the neighbourhood of Tondo (AP)
Firemen search through debris amidst still-smouldering houses following an early morning fire that engulfed the neighbourhood of Tondo (AP)

New Year's firecrackers left at least one man dead and 380 others injured, causing a fire that destroyed 1,000 shacks in the Philippines despite rain and a government warning campaign.

A drunken man lit a dynamite-like firecracker called "Goodbye Philippines" and embraced it in Manila as it exploded, killing him, Health Secretary Janet Garin announced.

Fire officials said a rocket lit by revellers set an abandoned hut ablaze, sparking a fire that razed shacks in Manila's Tondo slum district and displacing several thousand families.

Many superstitious Filipinos usher in the new year with powerful firecrackers, believing that noisy celebrations - largely influenced by Chinese tradition - drive away bad luck and evil.

Ms Garin said the number of injured, while still alarming, was less than half of last year's toll because of rain late on Thursday and a government scare campaign that involved showing gory pictures of past victims with their fingers ripped off by firecracker blasts.

The government has promoted fireworks shows sponsored by shopping centres, cities and even TV networks to discourage people from lighting their own firecrackers.

A large religious group, Iglesia ni Cristo, said it set off more than 700,000 devices to try to break a Guinness record for the largest fireworks display. Tens of thousands watched the spectacle in Bocaue town in Bulacan province, north of Manila.

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