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Rowdy New Year’s Celebrations Leave 4 Filipinos Dead, Hundreds Hurt

Four people died and hundreds were injured Sunday and today as Filipinos, continuing a dangerous tradition, defied a ban on powerful firecrackers and guns to welcome the new year.

Police and health officials said today that two of those killed had been hit by stray bullets and another had been stabbed in an alcohol-related attack. A fourth victim, a woman, died after she had been hit by a bullet fired by a drunken theological seminary student in the southern city of General Santos, radio station DZMM said.

At least 390 people were brought to 41 hospitals in the national capital for treatment of gunshot and stab wounds, burns and blast injuries, said a preliminary report from the Department of Health.

Sixty-eight other people were reported injured in road accidents.

Fires, some started by exploding firecrackers, broke out in at least 18 places around the nation, including residences, offices and a department store in suburban Quezon City.

Police said seven of the injured had been fired upon deliberately by still unidentified jeep-riding gunmen, who sprayed a crowd of revelers in Manila’s Malate district.

Others had been hit by stray bullets, including a 60-year-old woman who was wounded in the stomach.

Four-year-old Katrina Reyes of suburban Pasay City suffered a serious facial injury when a misguided “baby rocket” exploded in her right cheek, police said. An 8-year-old boy also suffered damage to his eyes when a “whistle bomb” he had kindled chased him and exploded in his face.

Officials said the number of reported casualties so far is smaller than last year, when more than a dozen people were killed and about 5,000 were reported hurt due to various causes, including 681 stabbings.