Officials say at least 245 people have been injured by firecrackers and celebratory gun fire ahead of often-bloody New Year’s eve revelry in the Philippines.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona made last-minute inspections of government hospitals on Friday to ensure emergency and surgical rooms were well-staffed and stocked with medicine for the expected deluge of people injured by firecrackers and gunfire.

Mr. Ona says the number of firecracker-related injuries could swell to more than 1,000 in 2010’s final hours if people don’t stay away from dangerous firecrackers.

Many Filipinos, largely influenced by Chinese tradition, believe that noisy New Year’s celebrations drive away evil and misfortune. But they have carried that superstition to extremes.

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