A truck loaded with fireworks exploded today in Beijing during the rush hour klling at least 26 people (exact location is about 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Luoyang, an ancient capital of China). Cause of the explosion remains unknown. The accident occured on a long highway bridge in Henan Province. Part of the bridge collapsed due to the intensity and force of the explosion sending vehicles plummeting 30 meters (about 100 feet) to the ground. These fireworks would have been used for Lunar New Year celebrations.
Fireworks accidents are common in China around the Chinese New Year Fair, this year on the 10th of February. Fireworks are thought to ward off evil spirits. Because of numerous accidents around 200 cities had banned the burning of firecrackers during celebrations in 1994. However, due to public and commercial pressures the bans were gradually lifted in recent years.
Some other firework catastrophes happened in China’s history. The most dangerous were in 2006, on the first day of the Lunar New Year, when a storeroom of fireworks exploded at a temple fair in Henan, killing 36 people and injuring dozens more. And in 2000, an unlicensed fireworks factory in southern China exploded, killing 33 people, including 13 primary and secondary school students working there.