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DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – The Department of Health logged its first death due to firecracker injuries this year – a resident of Dagupan City.
The victim was identified as Raymundo Lazaro, 38, who was initially rushed to the hospital after sustaining severe wounds to his face and to other parts of his body.
Lazaro fought for his life for days before succumbing to his wounds while undergoing treatment at the Region I Medical Center.
Three other individuals were injured, including 48-year-old former barangay kagawad Rogelio Solomon, 49-year-old Jaquiline Velasco, and 44-year-old Roan Velasco.
The incident occurred on December 25, at around 11:28 pm, when the victims were having their late night Christmas party in a house under construction owned by Vilma Solomon, Rogelio’s sister, who is currently living in Canada.
Drunk, one of the individuals in the said party threw a partially-lit cigarette butt in a nearby room, which contained stored firecrackers.
This resulted in a massive explosion affecting 21 houses with doors destroyed, beams collapsed, roofs blown away, and glass shattered as a result.
Even residents of Barangay Gayaman in neighboring Binmaley town, around 10 kilometers away, were able to hear the thunderous explosion.
“Yung apat na sugatan ang nasa malapit doon sa storehouse na pinag-iimbakan ng paputok,” said Police Lieutenant Colonel Brendon Palisoc, Dagupan City chief of police, in an interview aired over Aksyon Radyo Pangasinan.
(The four individuals injured were staying near the storehouse where the firecrackers were lodged.)
An investigation of the Explosive and Ordnance Division along with the PNP K9 unit revealed something unsettling: There were components and ingredients found in the area potentially indicating the site could have been an illegal fireworks factory, something the residents belied.
They said there were only 40 pieces of firecrackers stored in the area, though authorities doubted this when compared to the extent of the damage dealt by the explosion.
“Although ang allegation nila is nag-iinuman lang sila at nag-iimbak ng paputok, may nakita ang mga EOD na kasangkapan sa paggawa ng paputok,” he said.
(Although their allegation was that they were only having a drinking spree, and the firecrackers were only stored for the upcoming New Year, the EOD found components used for firecracker production.)
Dagupan City Mayor Belen T. Fernandez expressed rage and dismay over the incident.
As of writing, the residents and individuals concerned are facing charges in violation of Republic Act 7183, which regulates the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnics. – Rappler.com