Nong Khai rocket launches shot down

Nong Khai rocket launches shot down

Residents of a village in Nong Khai have felt the heat from a new order by the military government that strictly controls the launches of traditional rockets and other airborne objects.

Police rushed to Ban Na Hee in Muang district on Saturday after district chief Sophon Huangyat alerted them that a bang fai festival was being held in the village.

When they arrived they discovered that 25 of the 30 rockets the community had assembled had already been launched.

Pol Capt Pawich Urasai, chief of the Muang district station, said officers told the residents about the fresh directive of the National Council for Peace and Order.

The order signed by council chairman and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha took effect on Friday evening. It requires launchers of bang fai and other airborne items to receive permission from the district chief in their area first. All provinces have to designate launch areas for organisers.

Violators will face fines of up to 60,000 baht and/or jail terms up to three years, according to the order.

Daeng Thatwisai, a Ban Na Hee resident, said they decided to abort the launch of the remaining five rockets in a gesture of cooperation with authorities.

The bang fai festival is a tradition in the Northeast at the start of the rainy season, when people pay respect to Phaya Thaen and ask the mythological god to provide a good harvest.

The new safety rules also apply to floating lanterns, which are often launched into the sky around Loy Krathong and have been known to disrupt air traffic, especially in northern Thailand.

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