Vietnam police seize 118 kilos of illegal firecrackers ahead of Tet

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Paper firecracker covers litter a street in Hai Duong Province last Lunar New Year

Police in the central province of Nghe An seized a total of 118 kilos of firecrackers in three different busts before the Tet holiday, in which the illegal explosions are expected to run rampant.

Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Duc Hai, police chief of Hoang Mai town in Quynh Luu District, said his unit cooperated with Nghe An customs on Tuesday to arrest a 28-year-old local Nguyen Van Dinh with 62 kilograms of firecrackers, before discovering another 20 kilograms at his house.

They seized 30 kilograms of firecrackers the same night being smuggled by Ho Trong Ai. The contraband's owner, Le Huu Nhuong, 36, gave himself up to authorities later.

On December 11, police also arrested Ho Sy Tri, 26, while he was carrying 45 kilograms of dynamite, and then found 1,200 detonators at the house of Le Thi Hai, who was working with Tri.

Vietnam banned firecrackers in 1994 for safety and security reasons, but the items remain a favorite Tet (Lunar New Year) toy and are still produced discreetly or smuggled from China, where firecrackers are still legal in some areas.

Official figures showed that during Tet 1994, 728 fireworks accidents killed 71 people and injured 765 others.

Similar incidents, though at much lower rates, occurred at the end of every year, just before the country's biggest holiday, which this year falls on January 31. The small-scale bangs come alongside upsurges in smuggling during the festive season.

Vietnamese police seized a total of 27,558 kilograms of illegal fireworks in 2011 and 2012.

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The country halted a proposal for the commercial sale of non-explosive fireworks in October after an explosion at a factory of the country's sole producer, Z121, which is owned by the Ministry of Defense, killed 24.

Investigators blamed the blast on heavy rains, saying that water leaked through a warehouse's fiber cement roof and reacted with explosive powder, sparking fires and then explosions.

Fireworks are currently restricted from public use in Vietnam and are mainly used by state bodies for public displays during national holidays. 

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