Explosion At Illegal Fireworks Store Kills 5, Leaves Some Families Homeless
Lunar New Year celebrations ended in disaster for a number of people in southern China. A huge explosion reportedly caused by firecrackers caused panic at around 2'oclock in the morning in Rongan County. Residents in the southern region of Guangxi heard several explosions that originated outside a shop that was allegedly selling illegal fireworks. According to the Xinhua news agency, the explosion killed five people and caused a fire that burned down several houses.
The fire that was started by the explosion affected four houses in the area. Residents near the area had to be evacuated out of their homes as a precaution. Firefighters arrived at the scene to try and stop the fire from spreading any further. Responders finally put out the flames at around 5'oclock in the morning. Authorities that were on the scene apprehended the shop owner, who was treated as the main suspect of causing the explosion.
During the same day, Local government officials called on an emergency meeting. Officials ordered local police and fire departments to come up with a plan to stop the illegal firecracker trade in the area. While firecrackers sold by legitimate manufacturers are allowed in some areas, illegally made products still continue to be sold on the streets. Families during the Lunar New Year Eve traditionally set off firecrackers as a part of a ritual to ward off evil spirits. Setting off firecrackers is also a big part of China's celebration ceremonies.
In China, around 500 cities have banned the use of firecrackers. This was done mainly due to the rapid increase in deaths and injuries caused by firecrackers over the years. Around the same time last year, four people were killed when a firework suddenly exploded while it was being lighted in a city in the Yunnan province. A few days later, three more people were killed in a fire when firecrackers exploded inside a workshop in Shandong province.
The city of Chongqing is the latest municipality to outright ban the use of firecrackers during the celebrations. According to city officials, firecrackers have caused more than 36 fires in the city over the past few years. It has also caused numerous deaths and injuries within the city. Most Chinese are still torn on the subject, with some saying that fireworks are a part of Chinese culture and shouldn't be restricted. Some people, on the other hand, are for the complete banning of the production and use of firecrackers. These people also argue that firecrackers only add to the country's air pollution problems, which typically worsens during the Lunar New Year holiday season.