CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Saturday that firecracker related accidents for 2009 have been significantly lower by at least 70 percent compared to that of 2008.

DOH regional director Rio Magpantay told Sun.Star Pampanga that as of January 2, the DOH Surveillance Reports noted that some 59 accidents were reported from major hospitals in Central Luzon.  About 17 firecracker accidents were recorded in Pampanga alone but with no casualties recorded.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

The said figure, according to Magpantay, is significantly lower than of 2008 and is still considered to be one of the most peaceful celebrations of the New Year. In 2008, more than 160 people were injured in firecracker-related incidents during the New Year's Eve in Pampanga alone. 

Doctor Irene Canlas, officer-in-charge of the DOH-Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu) reported that in 2007, the DOH has recorded 375 cases of firecracker-related injuries throughout Central Luzon. Of this number, various medical institutions in Pampanga reported 43 victims.

The Pampanga Provincial Police Office also reported that the New Year revelry in Pampanga and Central Luzon were relatively peaceful.

Pampanga Provincial Police Director Gil Lebin Jr. said that the no major crimes were perpetrated in major towns and cities of the province. 

“It was a peaceful New Year, aside from the petty little crimes and holiday traffic it was relatively an easy holiday,” Lebin said.

However, in Nueva Ecija, two people were reported dead from the fire accident that erupted along a group of firecracker stalls in Muñoz town with 5 other people sustaining second degree burns. Another group of firecracker stalls also burst into flames in Zambales town but no accidents were recorded.

But the DOH said that said this year's celebration was much peaceful due to the relatively minor incidents and the obvious decline of firecracker use due to strict government regulation and campaign to stop the use of dangerous firecrackers.

Earlier, the DOH through Health Secretary Francisco Duque III appealed for a stronger crackdown against the proliferation of dangerous and illegal firecrackers nationwide.

Aside from public information campaigns, the DOH also has Emergency Room Preparedness and Responsiveness program, wherein Code White Alert is declared on all DOH hospitals on December 24, 25 and 31. DOH also bans firecrackers in all of their facilities.