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Over 3,000 injured during fire festival in Iran (VIDEOS)

The annual celebration takes place in the run-up to Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, and involves bonfires and fireworks

Over a dozen people have died and thousands have been injured during Iran’s annual Chaharshanbe Suri, or fire festival celebrations, ISNA news agency reported on Wednesday, citing data from the National Medical Emergency Organization (NMEO).

The fire festival is held every year ahead of Nowruz, the Iranian new year, which begins on March 21. It is traditionally celebrated on the last Wednesday of the year, but the festivities often start two to three weeks in advance.

According to the report, there were 3,253 injuries this year, while at least 14 people died. Roughly 100 people sustained minor injuries and were treated on the spot, while others suffered severe burns and eye damage and had to be taken to hospitals. At least 189 cases required limb amputations. The statistics cover incidents that took place from March 1 to March 12.

Iranians traditionally mark the holiday by jumping over bonfires to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one. However, modern customs also include the use of fireworks and firecrackers, as well as homemade incendiary materials, which often leads to injuries.

According to the head of NMEO, Jafar Miadfar, authorities have established a special force this year to reduce the use of illegal incendiary substances, and the Tehran police monitored smugglers and sellers of such substances for about two months prior to the festivities. As a result, some 10 million incendiary items were confiscated.

Nevertheless, the Tehran Fire and Safety Services Department received nearly 7,000 emergency calls from residents reporting explosions, fires, or various other incidents related to the festivities on Tuesday alone, according to spokesman Seyed Jalal Maleki. One case involved a teenager using homemade hand grenades. Residents also reported seeing people throwing incendiary materials from their balconies or the roofs of residential buildings.

Despite efforts by authorities to make the festival safer, the celebration claims a large number of victims every year. In 2023, the number of wounded exceeded 4,300, and 26 people died.

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