Easter customs kill 1, wound 4

The fatal shooting of an elderly Cretan on Sunday was attributed yesterday to an accident arising from the local custom of firing guns into the air to celebrate Easter. Other violent Easter customs led to two men being severely wounded in other parts of Greece, while 25 people were killed in road accidents over the past five days as holidaymakers streamed out of major cities to celebrate in the countryside. At Aghios Ioannis near Iraklion in northern Crete, Stamatis Nikolaou, 77, was found dead by his wife in the front yard of the couple’s house with a single bullet in the head, around 9.30 p.m. on Sunday. The coroner who examined the corpse said yesterday that Nikolaou’s death appeared to have been an accident, caused by a chance shot most likely fired from a car passing by the house. In Crete, which has a rampant gun culture, as in other parts of Greece, it is customary to fire guns into the air to celebrate Easter Sunday. A man who engaged in such celebratory gunfire after the midnight resurrection service at Lefkimmi on Corfu lost a finger when his weapon misfired, wounding him in the hand. In a variation on the Resurrection service custom at Lixouri on Cephalonia, unidentified individuals celebrated Easter with a bang by throwing two sticks of dynamite into the harbor. The first ended up in the water, while the second exploded on the pier, causing extended damage and shattering shop windows. A young woman and an 80-year-old man needed hospital treatment after being cut by broken glass. And at Leonidio in the southeastern Peloponnese, a 24-year-old man lost four fingers when a firework went off prematurely in his hands. Last week, a Samos greengrocer was killed in an explosion while making illegal Easter fireworks.

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