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Fireworks kill one, injure 434 during Spring Festival in Beijing
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13:12, February 13, 2008

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One person died and 434 were treated in hospital for injuries from fireworks-related accidents in Beijing during the week-long Spring Festival holiday, local authorities said.

In the period from the Lunar New Year's eve until the sixth day of the holiday, hospitals across the city treated fireworks injuries on people aged from three to 78, according to the Health Bureau of Beijing.

A young man surnamed Zhang, who had reportedly been drinking, died in Pinggu District as he mishandled homemade fireworks early on Thursday, the first day of the Chinese Year of Rat.

The deafening blasts of firecrackers are an essential element of China's most important traditional festival of the Lunar New Year.

Police said fireworks had triggered 143 fires in the six days beginning the Lunar New Year's eve, down 46 percent against the same period of last year.

From Feb. 22, the 16th day of the lunar year, fireworks will be forbidden within the Fifth Ring Road. Those violating the regulation would be arrested, warned the city's fireworks supervision office.

It suggested that people set off all their fireworks before the deadline or give them to police for detonation.

Nearly 250,000 fireworks packages were sold before and during the Spring Festival, a slight increase against last year, the office said.

The authorities cordoned off 102 streets in 106 residential compounds for people to enjoy fireworks displays. But they are forbidden in or near Olympic Games venues, cultural relics, military zones, kindergartens and gas stations.

Checkpoints have been set up at entrances to every major highway into Beijing to prevent the inflow of illegal fireworks.

The city lifted a 12-year ban on fireworks in 2006. Since then, two deaths, more than 1,500 injuries and 2,400 fires caused by mishandled firecrackers have been reported.

China accounts for about 75 percent of the world's total annual firecracker production.

Source: Xinhua

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