MANILA (AFP) – An infant and a toddler have died after being accidentally shot during raucous New Year celebrations in the Philippines, police said Thursday.
The revelry left eight other people across the country wounded by stray bullets, while 793 were injured by firecrackers, according to a health department tally.
A three-month-old baby boy was hit in the head by a stray bullet from a gun that was being fired into the air as part of festivities in the northern town of Caoayan in the early hours of January 1.
“He was lying in his room when the bullet pierced the roof and hit the child,” the Ilocos Sur provincial police chief Jemar Modequillo told AFP.
In the neighbouring province of Ilocos Norte, a two-year-old boy was also hit by a bullet as he slept in his family’s home in the town of San Nicolas, said the provincial police chief, Senior Superintendent Gerardo Ratuta.
Like the infant, this boy also died in hospital later, police said.
Police are now looking for the persons who fired the guns.
The governor of Ilocos Sur province has offered a reward for information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect in the infant’s shooting, Modequillo said.
Filipinos have traditionally welcomed the New Year by shooting off powerful firecrackers and sometimes by firing guns into the air – despite the government’s efforts to discourage both practices.
Last year’s revelry left one dead and 25 wounded by stray bullets, and a further 800 injured by firecracker explosions.
President Benigno Aquino called for safer ways to celebrate New Year’s day, his spokesman Herminio Coloma told reporters Thursday.
“Every New Year’s Day, we are greeted with headlines on hundreds of injured persons as a result of firecracker explosions, as well as casualties from stray bullets. We believe that there should be an alternative to this unfortunate scenario,” he said.