New Year fireworks leave 2 dead, hundreds injured in Beijing

BEIJING: Two men were killed and at least 223 injured in Beijing amid traditional New Year fireworks frenzy that lasted from Wednesday evening to Thursday noon, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

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.

In addition, a fire set off by fireworks destroyed a five-star hotel in Shenyang city in the wee hours of Thursday, forcing some 50 people in the hotel to evacuate.

The Chinese set off fireworks and firecrackers to welcome the Lunar New Year, following the tradition that the noise will ward off evil spirits. But each year hundreds are reported hurt in fires ignited by the fireworks.

On Thursday, the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, a total of 2,380 tons of exploded fireworks have been swept up by almost 20,000 street cleaners.

Beijing banned fireworks in urban districts in 1993 out of concerns over environmental pollution and possible damages caused by fireworks. The ban was revoked in 2006, however, after the public complained about the loss of festive atmosphere.


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