Unguided Rocket Kills Two And Destroys Car in Nong Khai, Thailand.

Unguided Rocket Kills Two And Destroys Car in Nong Khai, Thailand.

Above Photo: A Bang Fai rocket launch goes wrong (Screenshot).

Recently I was surprised to see a home made rocket launch from Laos, when I was in Nong Khai, Thailand, which is on the opposite bank of the Mekong to Laos. The rocket soared high into the sky, began to spin out of control at a great height, then died out, falling back to earth fortunately on the Laos side of the river.

Bang Fai rocket and launch pad (nationmultimedia.com)

Bang Fai rocket and launch pad (nationmultimedia.com)

There is a Bang Fai rocket festival in Thailand and Laos, which celebrates the start of the rainy season, with enormous home-made rockets. The rockets are often made from blue PVC pipes, some up to 6 metres long, stuffed with potassium nitrate, the largest ones containing up to two tonnes of propellant. Some of these rockets can reach up to 8-10km in the sky, making them a hazard for commercial aircraft.

Given the boozing that goes on around the festival, and the tendency for rockets to explode at, or shortly after, takeoff a rocket launch can be a dangerous place to get too close to, as can be seen in this dramatic You Tube video of a rocket exploding.

Last year I was passing a vacant lot by the Mekong river here when someone unexpectedly fired a rocket. The noise, power and speed of it were astonishing.

A couple of years ago there had been a tragedy during Nong Khai’s rocket festival when two people looking to park their car had been hit by an out-of-control rocket which had engulfed them in a fireball.

The car that was hit by the Nong Khai rocket (nationmultimedia.com

The car that was hit by the Nong Khai rocket (nationmultimedia.com)

Police said the firework, which was detonated by an electrical current, was found to have been mistakenly launched without its guidance system, after the person responsible for launching the rocket forgot to include it.

As a result, the rocket went off in the wrong direction and hit the car.

A successful launch (Nationmultimedia.com)

A successful launch (nationmultimedia.com)

After the accident, the whole festival in Nong Khai was cancelled, although I don’t know if they caught the people responsible for the launch, and if they did, what, if anything, would have happened to them.

Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.

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And for POWs left behind in Laos:

© Peter Alan Lloyd

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