GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 2 January) – The number of recorded firecracker-related injuries in South Cotabato province rose to 63 on Thursday but local health authorities said they were not done counting yet.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said the firecracker injury cases in the province have continued to increase since the New Year’s Eve revelries based on the reports submitted by public and private hospitals within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.
He said the latest count was up by 17 cases from the initial 46 cases recorded by the IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit on Wednesday morning.
“The figures will likely increase in the next three days as there are a number of cases that are still being validated by our surveillance unit,” he said in a radio interview.
Aturdido said they will continue with their monitoring until Sunday or January 5 as mandated by the Department of Health (DOH).
The IPHO started its monitoring on firecracker-related injuries last December 21 as part of the observance of the “code white alert” ordered by the DOH.
Of the 63 firecracker-related injury cases, Aturdido said 30 involved victims aged 2 to 10 while 22 were aged 11 to 20.
He said most of the victims were outpatients who only suffered minor burns and injuries from firecracker blasts.
But he said an adult victim lost a portion of his thumb to amputation after it was severely damaged by a “pla-pla” firecracker explosion at the height of the New Year revelries.
The official said another victim from Polomolok town was brought to the St. Elizabeth Hospital in this city after suffering an eye injury to a firecracker blast.
Aturdido said their records showed that 50 of the 63 injury cases so far were caused by the banned piccolo firecracker.
He said that based on interviews made by their surveillance personnel, some of the victims admitted that they were able to buy piccolo from sari-sari stores within their neighborhood.
“It only shows that the distribution and selling of piccolo in the province remained rampant despite being a banned material,” he said.
In 2012, 51 of the 86 firecracker-related injury cases recorded in the province were caused by piccolo.
The other injuries were caused by five star triangle, kwitis, recycled gunpowder, kamara, pla-pla, bombshell, boga and striking gun bullet.