Food, which was being barbecued at the Malta Sports Club on Saturday evening, ended up sprinkled with ashes and had to be thrown away as fireworks were let off about 100 metres away.

Caterer Keith Stagno Navarra said burning pieces of cardboard and other debris started falling on the food and on the 90-odd guests at the barbecue as the Sta Venera feast organisers let off fireworks at about 9.30 p.m.

"I had to throw food away because it was covered in ashes," Mr Stagno Navarra said.

The caterer estimates that he had to bin about €200 worth of food and even had to refund a group of people who could not wait for their dinner to be cooked again.

"Next year, I will just have to close during the feasts," he said, sounding resigned to having to give up work during a busy time of the year.

After a fire gutted the locker room of the Royal Malta Golf Club on July 18, as fireworks were being let off for the feast of St Sebastian in Qormi, the sports club filed a court application to stop fireworks from being let off over the weekend for the Sta Venera feast. But the request was turned down by the court.

The result was about an hour of deafening noise, which annoyed people eating at the club. A family had to leave early after the children grew increasingly uncomfortable. Club employees had to be called in yesterday morning to clear the golf course from the debris that had fallen there. "They collected a bin full of cardboard and other materials," Malta Sports Club acting secretary Albert Bonello said.

Other debris was still on the part of the golf course alongside the ditch where the fireworks were let off yesterday morning.

"It will take about a month of continuous cleaning to get rid of all this debris. Pieces of cardboard are still falling from the trees with every gust of wind," Mr Bonello said.

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