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Releasing Loy Krathong Festival Lanterns Near Airport May be Punishable by Death

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The air traffic control centre in Chiang Rai province has declared a 5-kilometre zone around the airport

CHIANG RAI – The Thai police gave a serious warning to the public that anybody found to be releasing floating lanterns or aiming laser beams into the sky near airports during the Loy Krathong Festival is susceptible to face the death penalty or lifetime imprisonment.

According to Acting Provincial Police Chief Region 1 Pol. Maj. Gen. Amnuay Nimmano, such action is deemed very dangerous to the safety of aircraft and is a violation of the Act on Certain Offenses Against Air Navigation B.E. 2521 (1978).

Violators may face execution or a life sentence or serve a lighter sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison, if damages done were not too severe. In addition, such offenders are also guilty of violating Section 232 of the Criminal Code and that alone carries a sentence of 6 to 7 years in prison and a fine up to 1,000 to 14,000 baht.

Members of the public have been requested by the police to refrain from releasing sky lanterns or balloons into the sky. The police will be strictly monitoring the airports to ensure that such activities do not take place.

The air traffic control center in Chiang Rai province has declared a 5-kilometre zone around the airport where people are advised not to launch lanterns from Wednesday to Friday, when Loy Krathong festival celebrations will take place.
During the festival, Thais float small rafts on rivers to ask for forgiveness from the goddess of water. They also believe that launching lanterns will rid them of bad fortune.

Authorities and airlines, however, have expressed safety concerns over the lanterns.

“We are asking the people to co-operate because only one lantern can bring down a plane,” Kiattisak said by phone. “Our officials are also keeping an eye on any lanterns that might be blown into the airport parameters during that period.”

Several airlines, including Thai Airways, have adjusted their flight schedules to give way to the lantern floating, which takes place mainly after dark.

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