42 died in fires during New Year

Updated: 2007-02-25 19:24

Accidental fires killed 42 people in China over the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, down sharply from the fire death toll during last year's holiday period, the official Xinhua News Agency said Sunday.

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The report did not say what caused the fires, but Beijing and other cities lifted a decade-old ban last year on fireworks, and residents set off millions of firecrackers to celebrate.

During last year's Lunar New Year holiday, 63 people were killed in accidental blazes, Xinhua said.

More than 9,100 fires were reported during the February 17-24 period, down 26.1 percent from last year's 13,000 accidental fires, it said.

In a separate report, Xinhua said 663 people were injured by setting off fireworks during the holiday week in Beijing, up slightly from last year when 654 people were injured.

Improper use was blamed for 63 percent of the injuries while shoddy fireworks were blamed for the rest.

Lighting firecrackers and fireworks is part in a Chinese New Year tradition meant to drive away bad luck and scare off evil spirits.

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