Published February 26, 2010
BEIJING – An explosion triggered by residents setting off fireworks to celebrate the Lunar New Year tore through a village in southern China, killing 19 people and wounding more than 30 as the country neared the end of its biggest holiday.
The blast late Friday in the southern province of Guangdong was the deadliest of the 15-day Lunar New Year, which ends Sunday. Fireworks are a large part of the celebrations, especially at the beginning and end of the holiday, despite public safety campaigns.
China's public security ministry has said fireworks-related accidents killed 11 people and injured more than 1,800 throughout the country during the first week of the holiday.
A police official in Puning city confirmed Friday night's explosion and said police were investigating. State media reported 19 were dead.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported the explosion occurred when villagers were setting off fireworks in front of a house. It said two people were detained after the blast for questioning. Its reporters found damaged homes near the blast site.
Telephone calls to the government offices of Puning city and Shitouqiao village were not answered Saturday morning.
Last year, an illegal fireworks display in Beijing on the last night of the New Year holiday sparked a massive fire that gutted a hotel at the new headquarters of China's main television network.
Beijing emergency for the first time this year are on higher alert for fireworks accidents at the end of the holiday than at the beginning, with 120 ambulances on standby, the Beijing News reported Saturday.