MANILA–A 3-month-old baby boy has died after being accidentally shot during raucous New Year celebrations in the Philippines, police said Thursday. The revelry left nine other people across the country wounded by stray bullets, while 793 were injured by firecrackers, said Health Department Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag. The infant 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 Jan. 1.
“He was lying in his room when the bullet pierced the roof and hit the child,” provincial police chief Jemar Modequillo told AFP. The child died in the hospital later, Modequillo added. Police are looking for the person who fired the gun, while the governor of Ilocos Sur province has offered a reward for information that could lead to the suspect’s arrest, the police chief 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.