Christmas toll reaches 18

The final tally of deaths during the Christmas holiday was placed at 18 by the Emergency Operations Center (COE), with 197 reported injuries.

Of the deaths, 16 were due to traffic accidents and two were from alcoholic intoxication.

As he gave details of the first phase of “Operations Christmas Dawn 2008”, COE director Juan Manuel Mendez said that in comparison to last year, deaths were down by 10%, and overall accidents and injuries were down by 45%.

In 2007 there were 20 deaths, most of them from accidents, and there were 372 injuries. Only one person died from intoxication last year.

Speaking to reporters, Mendez highlighted the fact that during this year’s festivities, seven minors between the ages of 11 and 17 were reported to have suffered from alcoholic intoxication.

He said that since the COE “is not an enforcement agency, there are other institutions that will have to deal with this issue.”

He said that, “the parents should be summoned, since it is their responsibility to look after their children.”

The COE watches out for three principal causes: Alcohol poisoning, food poisoning and traffic accidents.

The organization has the support of the National Police and the Armed Forces as well as Public Heath, the AMET, the Politur (Tourism Police), Public Works and the Presidential Administrative Ministry.

Last year, 23 traffic-related accidental deaths were reported. A spokesman for the COE said that most of the deaths are alcohol related. This year the Ministry of Interior and Police restricted the use of guns even by those authorized to carry these.