February 12, 2006

Lunar New Year lantern sparks Taiwan airport fire

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A hot-air "sky lantern" used to pray for
good luck for the new Lunar New Year is the main suspect in the
worst fire in 27 years to hit Taiwan's main international

The fire, believed caused when a sky lantern landed near a
runway, scorched grassland border areas at Chiang Kai-shek
International Airport in northern Taiwan late on Sunday,
airport authorities said.

Passengers aboard arriving or departing flights were
treated to a swath of red flames before the airport was forced
to close the runway briefly and re-direct several flights.

There were no injuries or serious damage.

Many Taiwan people celebrate the Lantern Festival, the 15th
day of the Lunar New Year, which fell on Sunday this year, by
writing their New Year wishes on the paper lanterns and
releasing them into the sky. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of
sky lanterns were flying around the island.