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Illegal fireworks industry mars Eid holiday in Lebanon

Published: Updated:

Lebanese neighborhoods are terrorized during Eid by explosions from unregulated fireworks that are costing the country an estimated $30 million annually, Lebanon-based news website Al-Akhbar English reported.

Kamal Sinno, Head of the Association of Fireworks Companies in Lebanon, estimates that around $15m of fireworks are imported into the country every year. Merchants reap high profits, often as much as 100 percent, which brings the size of the fireworks market to $30m, according to Al-Akhbar.

Of this total, Lebanese customs report that the value of legal imports is only $3.3m. The rest of the imports are smuggled, and therefore neither the fireworks nor their profits can be regulated.

“There are 10 licensed companies that can import fireworks in addition to another eight that are not licensed, but nevertheless engage in the trade,” Sinno told the website.

The unlicensed companies also import illegal items, including one firework referred to as “dynamite” in the industry. This product can be highly explosive and dangerous, Sinno said.

The only fireworks permitted in Lebanon are “arrows”, fireworks launched into the air where they explode at a certain height. But illegal firecrackers are widely available and unregulated on the local market, according to al-Akhbar.

The industry is highly lucrative, especially around the Eid holiday when street vendors sell fireworks in nearly every neighborhood, the website reported.