One man died and many others were injured when a thirteen meter long home made rocket packed with explosives accidentally shot into a crowd of hundreds of spectators.
The incident happened yesterday evening at a Rocket Festival in Nong Rua sub-district of Nong Bua Lamphu province in Thailand's north east.
A video on the Channel 3 news showed villagers running for their lives amid smoke and fire. They reported that 17 had been injured five seriously.
Thai Rath reported that as spectators were looking at a Bang Fai Laan (Million Rocket) a Bang Fai Saen (100,000 Rocket) was set off accidentally in a tent and headed for the crowd.
The rocket was being prepared by the Song Phee Nong team from Sri Bun Reuang district around 5 pm.
Dead at the scene was 60 year old Noorit Chaising who was directly impacted by the rocket. People as young as 18 and as old as 78 were listed among the injured.
The rocket had a diameter of 6 inches, its gunpowder chamber was three meters long and tail nearly ten meters long said Thai Rath.
The owner of the rocket fled the scene and was being hunted by police.
Governor of Nong Bua Lamphu Chaithawat Niamsiri called for a full investigation and help for the victims.
The local district chief cancelled the remainder of the festival.
Thaivisa notes that rocket festivals are held all over the north east of Thailand. Huge rockets are set off into the sky by teams competing for prizes.
The tradition is based on beliefs that the god of the rains - Phayathaen - needs to be woken up to send the rains so that crops can grow at the start of the rice planting season.
Four people were killed at Yasothon in 1999 when a rocket turned back into the crowd from the launchpad.
In 2006 at the same venue - Thailand's biggest attended by thousands - a Bang Fai Laan whistled over the heads of spectators before destroying a tire repair shop next to a gas station.
No one was hurt as the owner of the shop was in the toilets.
Other accidents and deaths have occurred over the years at other festivals.
Rocket Festivals are a must see tourist attraction in Thailand though all come with a warning about the danger involved in watching home made rockets filled with gunpowder.
Crowds are always told to keep back but this latest incident clearly caught all by surprise.
Sources: Thai Rath | CH3