Crowds dice with death at Myanmar’s explosive fire balloon festival

Source:AFP Published: 2016/11/13 23:03:39

People release a hot-air balloon in Myanmar on Friday. Photo: AFP

People release a hot-air balloon in Myanmar on Friday. Photo: AFP

The skies of central Myanmar were set ablaze this week with the beginning of the Taunggyi fire balloon festival, one of the most beautiful and dangerous celebrations in Asia.

Brightly colored balloons with hundreds of homemade fireworks woven into their frames were sent soaring into the night sky, showering down cascades of sparks onto adoring crowds.

The explosive-laden balloons regularly crash to the ground, causing panic below, but visitors say the sight is worth the risks.

"I'm very happy and also afraid," 22-year-old Maung Maung Myint, who traveled to the capital of Shan state from Mandalay, told AFP on Friday.

The November celebration has become a highlight of the annual Tazaungdaing festival of light that marks the end of Myanmar's rainy season.

The huge crowds, lack of safety precautions and homemade fireworks have proved deadly in the past.

In 2014, three people were killed when a balloon crashed onto spectators below. A young child also died when a balloon was blown into the family's tent.



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