MANILA - The number of firecracker-related injuries has risen to 176 ahead of New Year's Eve, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.
According to the DOH, the latest number of firecracker-related injuries is 53 cases lower than the five-year average during 2009-2013.
In a press briefing, acting Health Secretary Janette Garin said of the 176 people injured, 6 lost fingers, while 33 sustained eye injuries.
The DOH said 162 injuries have been reported as of Wednesday morning.
Banned firecracker "Piccolo" remains the most dangerous, accounting for more than 70% of the injuries so far.
During the press briefing, the DOH also presented a tricycle driver who has been in and out the hospital after injuring his left eye due to firecracker "Pla-pla."
"Bumibiyahe po ako noon, nadaanan ko 'yung nagtitinda ng paputok. Bumili ako ng isang bundle. Kinagabihan, oras ng putukan, sinindihan ko pero hindi pumutok. Nilapitan ko, may hawak pa akong lusis. Sinindihan ko, biglang sumabog," recalled Mark Jason Samin.
Samin said he has yet to recover from the injury he sustained just last January and has to undergo another round of operation next month.
"Ooperahan pa po ['yung mata ko]. May naiwan pang puwing sa itim ng mata ko," he said.
A kagawad in their place recalled Samin's injury and said, "Kung nakita niyo lang ('yung nangyari kay Jason), akala namin tuluyan na siyang mabubulag."
Samin was only able to return to his work last November. But because his left eye is now blind, it is much harder than it was before.
As a tricycle driver who has 4 kids and takes home just P300-P400 a day, Samin said they had to rely to his parents help for their expenses, as he continues medication.
''Dati kumkita ako ng P400 o P300. Ngayon, di na ako gaanong namamasada dahil pag trapik po di na ako nakikipagsapalaran sa mga sasakyan. Baka po kasi makasagi e,'' he said.
His wife, Johanna, also shared the burden, especially because she just gave birth to their fourth child recently.
"Sana po huwag nang magbenta ng mga ganyang paputok, lalo na ngayon marami na pong napuputkan at nadidisgrasya. Sana po huwag na silang magbenta ng mga ilegal na paputok," said the victim's wife.
Meanwhile, DOH's Dr. Maricar Limpin warned that aside from injuries, smoke from firecrackers can also cause respiratory sicknesses.
She said smoke from firecrackers contain particles can penetrate the lungs and might cause irritation or even illnesses.
''Itong mga usok na ito nagko-contain ng iba-ibang hases na meron ding metallic elements na pumapasok sa ating baga,'' Limpin explained. "Para sa mga kababayan na meron talagang sakit sa baga tulad ng hika o chronic obstructive diseases, higit pa sa simpleng ubo at sipon ang mararamdaman nila.
The DOH continues to discourage the public from using firecrackers in welcoming 2015.