Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It sucks coming back to this 

On the political front there isn't much of anything going on in Venezuela as the whole country will be shut down until early January due to the holidays. But there was a very tragic fire yesterday in Ciudad Guayana that left possibly more than a dozen people dead.

Details are still sketchy so it isn't possible to say anything conclusively about what happened. But it has been reported that the store where the fire began held a large quantity of fireworks that are quite popular with Venezuelan's during the Holidays. In fact fireworks are quite popular with Venezuelan's period. When I was in the El Valle section of Caracas you would hear them every night, all night long, and because it is a valley the sound reverberates and is amplified. The only thing that ever seemed to stop it was rain.

Now it seems a lot of people have paid with their lives for this cheap entertainment. Not to mention all the routine but isolated incidents of people being burned, losing fingers, or being blinded by these things. And even worse some Chavistas have the very bad habit of throwing very large firecrackers (M80s I think) called "Bin Ladens" at opposition marches. It would be nice to see the authorities do the responsible thing and eliminate these home use fireworks. But to do that they would have to be willing to piss some people off and given that they don't want to piss anyone off don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

UPDATEHere is an article on it from Rueters. The death toll I have seen in Venezuelan reports is much higher. And note that there were at least 43 fires in Caracas alone on Christmas attributable to fireworks:

At least four people were killed on Monday when a fireworks shop exploded in an eastern Venezuelan city amid booming fireworks sales for year-end festivities, rescue workers said.

Civil protection agency director Antonio Rivero said up to four other people were also feared dead, but firefighters could not immediately reach the area as fire raged on in the shop that also sold guns and ammunition.

He said they had managed to control most of the fire that spread through the busy district in the city of Ciudad Guayana in Bolivar state after the blast, but not in the gun shop.

"There are cartridges there which pose a threat to firefighters, who cannot complete the search for bodies right now. We understand that between four and eight people have died," Rivero said.

Fireworks accidents in the South American country are common in the holiday season when sales of mainly imported cheap pyrotechnics for Christmas and New Year celebrations skyrocket despite government attempts to ban them.

Fireworks caused 43 fires in the metropolitan area of Venezuela's capital, Caracas, on Christmas night.


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