Rocket near-miss with aircraft prompts safety concerns in Surin

Photo courtesy of Sanook

Rocket fireworks narrowly missed an aircraft in Surin province on Sunday, prompting officials to urge pilots to navigate around them. The district chief denied the incident occurred in his area, highlighting a lack of clarity about the event’s location.

Local reporters were alerted to illegal gambling activities at the Boon Bang Fai rocket festival behind a temple in Ban Jang Kao, Moo 10, Nong Phai Lom Subdistrict, Samrong Thap District, Surin Province on Sunday, May 19.

Upon arrival, it was observed that attendees were required to purchase ribbons for 100 baht each to enter. Inside, thousands of gamblers openly negotiated bets before the rockets were launched. Announcements were made via loudspeakers to inform gamblers of the rocket launch times and durations as the rockets ascended into the sky.

Despite the Surin provincial directive on public safety measures and order during such events, particularly concerning gambling, no officials were seen enforcing these rules. Samrong Thap District Chief Wirut Triyawang had earlier instructed relevant authorities to arrest anyone found gambling. However, the district prevention officer denied any gambling activities, even after reporters provided video evidence. Ultimately, no preventive measures were taken according to the district chief’s orders.

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Additionally, several commercial flights passed over the festival site, with one incident involving a rocket narrowly missing an aircraft. The situation was tense but resolved without incident. Announcements claimed that aviation authorities had been notified about the rocket launches and that pilots were expected to avoid them. Despite this, rocket launches continued throughout the festival.

Reporters contacted Wirut to discuss the incident yesterday at 3pm. He confirmed that no such event occurred in Samrong Thap and suggested it might have happened in Non Narai District, Surin, or Rasi Salai District, Sisaket. The district chief emphasised that Samrong Thap is not on any commercial flight paths and that rocket launches are always coordinated with aviation authorities to ensure safety.

“We always notify aviation authorities before any launches, and village leaders coordinate to halt launches if there are flights. Our area is not on any flight paths.”

Video evidence

Regarding the gambling reports, Wirut mentioned that local police would handle the situation and requested the video evidence for verification, noting the unclear identity of the person who recorded it.

Wirut expressed uncertainty about the video evidence but acknowledged that there had been a few arrests related to illegal activities. He explained that permits for rocket launches are limited and must be requested 15 days in advance, primarily for traditional ceremonies.

He assured that gambling activities would be addressed according to the law and reiterated that all necessary regulations are attached to the permits, which are strictly enforced by local authorities and police.

Upon further questioning, Wirut reaffirmed that no rocket launch near a passing aircraft occurred in Ban Jang Kao, as it is not on any commercial flight path. He encouraged verification of the event’s location and confirmed that local and aviation authorities had already investigated and found no evidence supporting the claims, reported Sanook.

Addressing the possibility of legal action against the media, Wirut stated he had no intention of suing, acknowledging that misunderstandings could occur.

“I understand that mistakes can happen. I am a public official and do not intend to sue the media or the public.”

Reporters maintained that the footage aired was indeed from the Boon Bang Fai festival in Ban Jang Kao, Samrong Thap District, and specifically included the scene of the aircraft narrowly missing the rocket.

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Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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