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April 24, 2014

Fatal Easter Traditions

April 22, 2014

One man was killed and another seriously injured from gunshot during a village festival in Crete to mark Easter Sunday.

The victim, named as 25-year-old Yiorgos Gyparakis, was fatally shot on Sunday afternoon in Myriokefala, outside Rethymno, where villagers had assembled to fire off live rounds in the air, in a tradition known as balothies.

According to local media, one of the victim's friends pulled out his gun to fire in the air, but managed to hit Gyparakis and a 23-year-old man. Both were rushed to hospital, where Gyparakis was pronounced dead. The other man is being treated for eye wounds.

After taking statements from eyewitnesses, police later arrested a 40-year-old man suspected of firing the shots.

Meanwhile, the condition of an American tourist injured by a makeshift firecracker on Holy Saturday during the Resurrection service on the island of Santorini was described as critical on Monday evening.

The woman, who was flown to Irakleio hospital in Crete, underwent an abdominal surgery after she was hit by a firework that went off in the courtyard of a church in Oia. It is believed that the firecracker was dropped from the roof of the church. Two suspects, aged 23 and 34, have been arrested.

Two other US citizens and a 50 year-old Greek were also seriously injured in the incident and were taken to the same hospital.

Elsewhere, in the village of Angelokastro, in the western prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania, a man was seriously wounded in the hand when the firecracker he had tried to light subsequently went off.

The weekend's tragedies follows an incident last week in which a 51 year-old-man on the island of Chios was blown to pieces while working with dynamite. An investigation revealed he had bought the explosives and fuses earlier and was using them to make fireworks.

In their annual crackdown on illegal firecrackers, police said that the carried out 2,354 inspections from 12 March to Easter Sunday, confiscating 120,000 firecrackers, 630 rockets, 24 flares, 245 devices used to launch flares and rockets, 400 cartridges, 570,155 fireworks for children and making 107 arrests.