NEWS

Fireworks law is a damp squib

Greece’s complicated law governing the sale of fireworks was blamed yesterday for encouraging the sale of illicit pyrotechnics in the runup to Easter, as one person was left dead and another lost his hand during explosions in the last 48 hours. A 19-year-old man was killed on the island of Samos on Sunday when he attempted to remove the gunpowder from an army shell so he could make fireworks, according to police. And a 43-year-old man was seriously injured yesterday in an explosion in a wood in Thessaloniki. Police said it was not immediately clear what had caused the blast which blew off the man’s left hand and left him with severe burns. Another two people have been injured since March trying to make fireworks. The police have conducted almost 8,000 checks since March in a bid to clamp down on the trade in illegal fireworks and firecrackers but critics say that the law, which bans the sale of these items during Easter, encourages an illicit trade in the pyrotechnics. «Apart from lambs and eggs, Greeks also stock up on firecrackers ahead of Easter,» said the vice president of the union of Greek pyrotechnicians, Spyros Nanos. «The law, however, makes this illegal and encourages the illegal trade and the construction of homemade fireworks that cause injuries and deaths.» The law allows fireworks to be traded for most of the year but bans their sale during Easter time, even though it is a Greek tradition to set off fireworks after midnight on Easter Saturday to mark the resurrection of Christ. The police have confiscated more than 1.1 million firecrackers in the last month, which is more than double the amount that were seized during the same period last year. Since 1997, eight people have been killed and 96 injured in Greece while using fireworks.