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Illegal fireworks seized across Italy, two arrests

Cities from Milan to Palermo issue street bans

30 December, 12:02
Illegal fireworks seized across Italy, two arrests (ANSA) - Rome, December 30 - Two people were arrested Friday and thousands of illegal fireworks seized across Italy as police sweeps ahead of New Year's Eve intensified and cities from Milan to Palermo decided to ban fireworks from the streets.

In Naples police discovered a clandestine factory, seizing four tonnes of fireworks and arresting one man.

Another underground factory was discovered near Salerno and the owner cited for breaking the law. At San Giorgio a Cremano outside Naples another man was arrested for possession of 160 kg of illegal fireworks.

Some 300 kg of dangerous fireworks were found under the stairs of a house in Lecce in Puglia and a couple was cited.

At Castelfiorentino near Florence a toy-shop owner was cited for possession of 387 kg of banned fireworks.

A man was caught with 550 kg of illegal fireworks on the motorway near Arezzo.

Every year in the run-up to Christmas Italian police seize tonnes of extremely powerful and illegal fireworks, most of them made in China.

Police have said their preventive action will continue until the end of the year, when Italy's traditional New Year fireworks mayhem regularly results in burns and mutilations.

Naples is usually the worst-hit city, recording the highest number of injuries.

In the last five years there have been three New Year celebration deaths in the southern Italian city.

Women in Naples got so fed up with their menfolk in 2008 that they launched a 'no sex if you let off fireworks' drive.

The operation had some success as the number of injuries dropped by about 100 to 382 that year.

But one person was killed by a stray bullet - the second year running that someone was accidentally shot dead on New Year's Eve.

Campania, the region around Naples, was the worst-hit region again in the last two years with several hundred injuries including parts of hands blown off.

Many of the illegal fireworks sold in Italy are actually rudimentary bombs.

A mortar is currently on the black market that packs a one-kg punch and can cause serious damage to persons and objects within a "very wide" radius, police say.

Local youths have delighted in giving heavy-duty fireworks scary or jokey names like The Bin Laden, The Maradona Bomb, Desert Storm, Red October and Turbo 3.

Last year saw the first appearance of another big bazooka, The Pope Bomb.

Among this year's favourites is a monster blaster called the Monti Bomb after Italian Premier Mario Monti's bumper austerity package.

Many cities, including Milan, Venice, Turin, Asti, Modena, Bari, Palermo and Olbia in Sardinia have issued ordinances in the last two days banning fireworks from the streets.

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