Archive for the ‘firecrackers’ Category

11 die in Cavite firecracker factory blast & 100+ Kenyans perished as they tap fuel from a truck

February 3, 2009

There is a horrid parallel between the fire cracker factory blast in the Philippines and the conflagration following an explosion of a gasoline truck in Kenya.

In the Cavite, on Jan 29, 2009, a firecracker factory suddenly exploded killing 11 workers and injuring 60 others. Though the cause of the blast wasn’t immediately known, faulty electrical wiring was suspected. By all probability, there could have been a breach in the safety measures in the production or handling of pyrotechnics. Accidental fires continually burned down similar factories before. The loud blast and ensuing inferno damaged nearby houses and commercial buildings.

The tragedy had been made worse by another blast which occurred the next day in Molo, Kenya. More than 100 people perished and greater than 300 more were either burned or reported missing. A fuel truck caught fire along the road when people tried to scoop free gasoline from the overturned vehicle on January 30, 2009.

“Everybody was screaming and most of them were running with fire on their bodies, they were just running into the bush,” said Charles Kamau, 22, who was driving through Molo, on Saturday night when he saw the road blocked by hundreds of people with gerry cans, plastic bottles and buckets — anything to siphon some free fuel. As he waited for the crowd to disperse, the gasoline ignited with a blast that was felt miles away. Prime Minister Raila Odinga said someone’s cigarette might have caused the explosion.”—-GMA News TV/ AP (02/01/09)

Hundred of miles apart, the two fire incidents speak of the dangers poor people face in order to survive. In the Philippines, the firecracker production is fraught with dangers, but people still do it for the job—so they can earn some money. Current government regulations fail to control the accidents that occur every year in these fireworks production facilities.

In Kenya, the pilferage of fuel from pipes and tanks has resulted to deadly accidental explosions. In 2006, about 200 people died in a gasoline blast. These incidents show how desperate people can go in order to survive. Without improvement of their working and living conditions, more of these accidents are bound to be repeated in the future. Burn injuries are among the most difficult to treat in medical practice. (Photo Credits: Blue_fam; Reuters/ Ranoco,R) =0=

New Year in Davao, a Firecracker Ban and a Nearby Explosion

January 1, 2009

As in the previous years, New Year came to Davao without a bang. Since 2001, when the city created an ordinance banning firecrackers, New Year has always been celebrated with mute revelry as only the traditional torotot and banging of pots and pans can be heard around the city (of course, there are also those who use their car horns to create noise).

It is not only firecrackers that are banned in the city. Pyrotechnics are also illegal so the glow and aura of those attractive things can only be seen on TV sets in this city.

There is no use in bucking the city government. Mere possession of firecrackers and pyrotechnics is illegal in Davao. If in other cities those things are just confiscated, here in Davao it will land you in jail (and there are no prosecutors and judges to attend to your case during the long holidays). This season the city’s mayor, Rody “Dirty Harry” Duterte, even included minors for arrest in case they are found in possession of minor fireworks (so you won’t even see here small luces and watusi the children play with in other areas). Davao is really nitrate-emission free.

One result of this is a zero injury rate in fireworks-related incidents. Hospitals treat New Year’s eve here like an holiday. Some people here say that reporting yourself to the hospital can get you arrested. I wonder if a mangled finger a proper evidence in court.

Maybe it is time for the country to ban fireworks. It is probably just an unnecessary expense that we can’t really afford. For a moment of pleasure injuries (and even death) can ensure, the environment is polluted (noise and nitrates), and altercations ensue from wrongly-thrown fireworks (the bane of commuters during New Year’s eve). And if the avowed purpose of using firecrackers is to weed out malas (bad luck), certainly, decades of experience will tell us that this isn’t effective. Otherwise, we would have been a prosperous country already.

If Davao’s New Year’s bash is relatively quiet, it is not so in our nearby city, General Santos City. On New Year’s eve, hours before the year-change, a big explosion ripped the Oval Plaza injuring 26 people including 2 policemen. This is on top of an explosion the previous day in a police outpost that injured another policeman. Instead of holiday joy, General Santos City experienced quiet brought about by terror (for how can be one sure that the next bang is not the real thing?).

There is a place near the river Pasig that needs a wake-up blast and not General Santos City. Maybe some real malas removal would then happen.

[Photo credit: toto lozano, sunstar davao]

Campaign against firecrackers and fireworks

December 31, 2008

A counter-move against the merry tradition of bidding a noisy ending of the year, young students in Manila staged rallies against firecrackers. In a gathering spearheaded by EcoWaste foundation, environment-conscious students in Malate, brought attention to the dangers and polluting effects of firecrackers during the holiday.

In Negros Occidental and Cadiz City, an estimated P300,000 and P100,000 worth of illegal pyrotechnic devices respectively were confiscated by authorities. Similar operations where conducted in various cities all over the country as the new year draws near.

Although the Department of Health (DOH) has made headway in discouraging the use of firecrackers with the use of explicit anti-firecracker ads, hospitals in the country are in “Code White Alert” in anticipation for more people who might need medical attention. More than a hundred injuries have been reported including at least three directly inflicted by gunfire.

The argument against the firecrackers and indiscriminate gunfire at this time is easy to understand, but annually, Filipinos needed to be reminded of the risks and perils. Students and concerned Filipinos standing against firecrackers are helpful in getting this message across. (Photo Credit: Malaya/ Philip Duquiatan) =0=


Firecrackers to rid us of bad luck of the past year

December 29, 2008

There is urgency in the young man who works fast at a deadline. He is one of the fire-cracker makers in one of the busy pyrotechnics hub in Bulacan from where many fireworks on the streets come from. Dirtied by gunpowder and grime, the man rushes firecracker production in his make-shift factory during the Christmas holiday, oblivious of the risks it poses on his life and on his neighbor.

Revelers this Christmas and new year seek to buy fireworks for their rowdy celebration. By our tradition, the bang and bright display are ways to mark the coming year —the Filipino merry-making which doubles as an occasion to ward off bad luck.

According to our folk beliefs detonating firecrackers is needed to invite life’s good forces on the first day of the year. Whether this is true or not, we are thrilled by the spark and sound of firecrackers. A fast buck can be gained by trading watusi, bawang, “belt of judas, and lolo when the demand is there.

Body injuries and burns are some of fireworks’ drawbacks. Eardrums have been ruptured by the loud blasts. Explosive debris have pierced the eyes. Houses have been gutted down and many mutilations and deaths have been reported. Last year, the Department of Health (DOH,) has listed about 750 fire-cracker injuries. Public hospitals are now on alert in anticipation for those who may be brought to the emergency rooms.

As of December 21, 2008, it was reported that of the 119 holiday-related injuries documented, 115 were from firecrackers and fireworks,, 3 were gunshot wounds and 1 from ingestion of watusi.

There is obviously a need to regulate the use of pyrotechnics for the protection of the public. Shoddy manufacture of firecrackers brings problems of safety, giving a boost to the sale of the ones imported abroad. There’s little implementation of laws—even gunfires and pistol shots are recklessly substituted for fireworks at the height of celebration. Though most of us know the dangers, the relentless campaign for the safe use of fireworks during holidays remains a job in progress.(Photo Credits: _gem_s; Reuters/ Ranoco, Romeo; Reuters/Ranoco, Romeo; persesverando)=0=