Blasts at Burma New Year's Water Festival Kill at Least 9

YANGON, Myanmar -- At least nine persons were killed and dozens wounded Thursday as several explosions hit the biggest city in Burma (also known as Myanmar), Rangoon (Yangon), during traditional New Year festivities.

A hospital official who gave the death toll said the number was expected to rise. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release information.

The casualties were not officially confirmed. No one has taken responsibility for the blasts, and the military government did not immediately comment.

Witnesses said the emergency ward of Yangon General Hospital was sealed off to outsiders after at least 30 injured people were rushed there. One said the hospital was a scene of chaos and commotion, with injured arriving drenched in blood and people crying and moaning.

Other witnesses said three blasts occurred at about 3 p.m. near pavilions erected for the New Year's celebrations, close to the city's Kandawgyi Lake.

Burma is celebrating the annual four-day water festival, when people drench each other with water to usher in its traditional New Year.

"Truckloads of police have circled the area and police had arrived with sniffer dogs," said 24-year old Thant Zaw, a witness contacted by phone.

A hospital official said the casualties so far did not include any foreigners, though the festival is a tourist attraction.