Three killed, over 1,000 hurt as Iranians celebrate fire festival

March 16, 2021 6:18 PM EDT

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DUBAI (Reuters) - At least three people were killed and more than 1,000 were hurt as crowds across Iran leaped over bonfires and fireworks in an annual fire festival ahead of the Iranian New Year, state media reported early on Wednesday.

Of the 1,030 injured, 87 had lost a limb, the head of the national emergency services, Pirhossein Koulivand, told state television, with home-made fireworks and improvised explosives causing to casualties.

Koulivand said three people were killed during the celebrations which started at sunset on Tuesday and went on late into the night.

Many ignored authorities' warnings against gatherings in the Middle East country worst affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. Police arrested 25 people in the capital Tehran, the semi-official news agency Fars reported.

The ancient Zoroastrian feast, called Chaharshanbe Suri (Scarlet Wednesday), is held on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Iranian calendar. It remains highly popular as a national tradition despite the disdain of hardline Islamists who see it a pagan relic.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Richard Pullin)

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