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Firecrackers kill one in Beijing on Lunar New Year's eve
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One person was killed and 75 others were injured while setting off fireworks over the past day, the capital city's firework office said on Thursday.

The victim, surnamed Zhang, was badly injured while igniting a kind of homemade firework ball on Wednesday midnight, eve of the Lunar New Year, in his own courtyard in Pinggu District.

He died in the wee hours of Thursday after emergency medical treatment failed.

Investigation shows that Zhang had drank alcohol before he mishandled the firecracker.

The firework office, which was launched Thursday morning to supervise firework displays during the holiday, said fireworks had triggered 90 fires since Wednesday night, injuring another 75 people.

Beijing has cordoned off 102 streets in 106 residential compounds for people to enjoy firework display so far.

The city lifted a 12-year ban on firecrackers in 2006. Since then, two deaths, 1,510 injuries and more than 2,400 fires caused by mishandled firecrackers had been reported.

Deafening and sometimes fatal, firecrackers are nonetheless an essential element of China's most important festival of Lunar New Year, which falls on Thursday this year.

Beijing tightened control over illegal firecracker production this year by launching a crackdown on substandard firecracker workshops throughout the city.

Checkpoints have been set up at entrances of every major highways into Beijing to prevent the inflow of illegal firecrackers.

Beijing police destroyed 3,000 boxes of substandard firecrackers, valued at more than 1.2 million yuan (167,000 U.S. dollars), earlier this month. They were seized and detonated because of "potential danger to life and property".

China accounts for about 75 percent of the world's total annual firecracker production.

(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2008)

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