PM places ban on fiery sky lanterns after 20 forest fires

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved a ban on sky lanterns on July 22, following concerns that the soaring lanterns start fires once they fall back to the ground.

The new ban, to start in mid-September, outlaws the production, trade, sale and use of sky lanterns across the nation.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, almost 20 forest fires have been caused by burning sky lanterns since the beginning of the year.

In Hanoi alone, there have been eight fires in workshops, electrical stations and houses caused by sky lanterns. Sky lanterns that fell on power stations in the capital were also blamed for causing power blackouts, during Lunar New Year’s Eve earlier this year.

Under the decision, the ministries of Public Security and culture, Sports and Tourism as well as provincial and city people’s committees are responsible for guiding people and relevant agencies to implement the ban and supervise its implementation.

The Ministry of Information and Communications in co-operation with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is responsible for publicising the ban, while the Ministry of Education and Training has been tasked to raise awareness on the dangers of burning sky lanterns.

The Ministry of Public Security in co-ordination with provincial and city people’s committees will make public a range of fines and punishments for violations of the ban.

Sky lanterns are made from flame-retardant paper, a bamboo ring at the bottom, and a thin cross-wire supporting a square of wax paper or petroleum-soaked cloth: which is burned and acts as the lantern’s fuel. A sky lantern begins to rise into the air when the cloth is lit.

Fire-fighter Le Phi Hung said the lanterns have become more popular with young people during the last couple of years.