Police horse dies during fireworks display at Cricket World Cup match between India and South Africa

Aerial display of around 150 firecrackers were planned by the Cricket Association of Bengal to celebrate Virat Kohli’s 35th birthday

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A police horse died of a heart attack after being startled by the bursting of over 100 loud firecrackers following a match at a cricket stadium in India.

The horse named Voice of Reason was on duty outside the Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata during India’s fixture against South Africa for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 on 5 November.

After India’s thumping 243-run victory, it is understood that around 150 aerial firecrackers illuminated the night sky in the span of just five minutes.

Officials of the Kolkata Mounted Police said the horse – aged 5 years and 10 months – went into “traumatic shock” after the sudden bursting of crackers. The horse fled and hit some vehicles, reported The Telegraph India newspaper, citing officials.

The horse’s handler Animesh Chakraborty tried to control it, but failed.

The animal was later found lying immobile on the ground. A veterinarian tried to revive Voice of Reason by performing a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedure, but the horse was declared dead around two hours after the fireworks display.

“It was a racehorse that was inducted into Calcutta police earlier this year,” one of the Mounted Police officers was quoted as saying by the outlet, referring to the city’s old name.

“On Sunday, it went galloping along Plassey Road at full speed hearing the crackers and then it hit two or three vehicles and crashed on the road.”

The fireworks were planned by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), the sport’s governing body for the state of West Bengal, to celebrate the 35th birthday of Virat Kohli.

Kohli had equalled cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar’s world record of 49 One-Day International (ODI) centuries during the match.

CAB supposedly had “prior permission from the Pollution Control Board and Calcutta Police” to burst firecrackers, according to The Telegraph India.

The fireworks display comes after India’s cricket board, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), earlier claimed to be “committed to combating environmental issues”.

The Indian cricket board has officially banned fireworks in Delhi and Mumbai in the ongoing World Cup because of poor air quality in both cities.

India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a ban imposed on the sale and use of firecrackers, that has regularly been put in place for Delhi and the surrounding national capital region, should be applied all over India.

Cricketers from the world over who have travelled to the country for the World Cup tournament have earlier spoken about their difficulties dealing with air pollution in the cities.

Over the weekend, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were forced to cancel a practice session because of Delhi’s “severe” air quality.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes was also spotted using an inhaler on multiple occasions while training.

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