The Chinese government urged local work safety authorities on Thursday to intensify prevention of firework-caused accidents after blasts killed 19 people in the country in the run-up to the Spring Festival.
Nineteen people were killed in four fatal firework explosions in Henan, Anhui and Hebei provinces and Chongqing Municipality from January 21 to February 5, said a circular issued by the Work Safety Committee under the State Council on Thursday.
Firework sales jumped in the country as more cities lifted the ban on firecrackers in recent years, which posed a challenge to safety management of the product.
Local governments are required to work out emergency response schemes and keep high alert to possible accidents during the festival season.
The circular also urged local authorities to crack illegal production of substandard fireworks, a major cause of fatal accidents.
It is an ancient tradition to observe Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, with fireworks. Ancient Chinese believed that setting off firecrackers on the eve of the festival could get rid of misfortune and bring with luck.
Spring Festival falls on Feb. 18 this year.