Debate over fireworks rages after Easter death in Greece

The death of a cameraman and the serious injuries of three minors in various parts of Greece on Sunday have refueled the debate about the abolishment of the Easter fireworks tradition.

Seven people were arrested on Monday as suspects for the fatal injury of Kostas Theodorakakis, 53, on Sunday afternoon, while filming dancers with handmade flares in their hands in Kalamata city in southern Greece.

Among the arrested are the vice mayor of the municipality who is in charge of organizing the event and six dancers aged 22-62, according to police.

Despite the tragedy, the city’s mayor Panagiotis Nikas told local news website “newsit” that the fireworks event will not be banned “because it is a 150-year old tradition that attracts thousands of visitors each year and there will be reactions”.

The official pledged that stricter safety measures will be implemented.

“There were no security measures, no ambulance, no doctor,” Makis Vassilatos, a friend of the victim, who was also an eye witness, told local “Thema FM” (Topic FM) on Monday, calling for the abolishment of the tradition.

A flare hit Theodorakakis, a father of two minors, in the head and another one lightly injured a girl in the crowd, Vassilatos said.

Greek media and social media on Monday reflected the division of Greek society between proponents and critics of the Easter Sunday fireworks tradition which each year leaves behind casualties and injuries.

“Arrests and confiscations of fireworks are not enough. Traditions which cause deaths should be killed,” read a characteristic opinion article on news website “in.gr”.

The Easter Sunday fireworks dance in Kalamata refers to a historic battle in the region in the early 19th century. While Greece was still under Ottoman rule, locals used handmade flares to scare off the horses of the Ottoman Empire’s cavalry.

Such stories are behind similar fireworks traditions in many parts of the country.

An 8 year old girl was still hospitalized in critical condition in an Athens hospital on Monday, after being hit in the head by a stray bullet in Thiva city, an hour drive northwest from the Greek capital, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

The girl was playing with friends outdoors when the incident happened. No arrest has been made yet. In some occasions, like during wedding parties in the countryside, some Greeks celebrate by firing in the air.

Two 14 year old boys were also seriously injured facing the risk of losing their fingers due to fireworks accidents on Saturday night on the islands of Kos and Aegina.