Mysterylights Group Message 0236

Subject: Fwd = Mekong Fireballs not a hoax, insists TAT official
From: Frits Westra <fwestra@...>
Date: 10 Nov 2002 15:39

Forwarded by:     fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
Original Date:    Sat,  9 Nov 2002 21:18:14 +0100 (CET)

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                   GENERAL NEWS - Sunday 03 November 2002
                             MEKONG PHENOMENON 

   Fireballs not a hoax, insists TAT official 
   Refutes claim made by iTV documentary 
   Ploenpote Atthakor and Mongkol Kannika 
   The Tourism Authority of Thailand has rejected the claim in an iTV
   documentary that the fireball phenomenon during the Bang Fai Phaya
   Nark festival is a hoax.

   More than 400,000 visitors flocked to Nong Khai province last month to
   witness the annual event, during which about 800 fireballs reportedly
   rose from the Mekong river.

   The festival coincides with the end of Buddhist Lent, on the full moon
   night of the 11th lunar month, and local legend claims the source of
   the fireballs to be Naga, a mythical serpent living in the river.
   ``Non-believers came and saw the proof with their own eyes,'' said
   Nuan Sarnsorn, of TAT's office in the Northeast.

   In the absence of concrete evidence, the spectacle would remain a
   mystery, he said.

   But an iTV documentary, citing an academic's research, recently
   claimed the illusion of fireballs rising into the sky had been created
   with tracer bullets from AK-47 automatic rifles.

   Mr Nuan denied TAT had promoted a hoax, saying media interest had
   contributed more to the event's popularity.

   ``If it was a hoax, the organisers did extremely well to pull it
   off,'' he said.

   Thai Rak Thai MP Prasit Chanthathong said Nong Khai people felt the
   iTV documentary was misleading. They were concerned the public would
   start believing the report that the fireballs were created by Lao
   soldiers firing their rifles into the air.

   ``The phenomenon has been happening for several hundred years. How did
   anyone have a gun back then to create this show?'' Mr Prasit said.
   From watching the documentary he got the impression the clip showing
   Lao soldiers firing their rifles was a set-up.

   Mr Prasit said he had learned that Vientiane had investigated the
   soldiers shown in the documentary and punished them.

   ``I was told those soldiers were asked why they had wasted bullets
   which were expensive,'' he said, and urged the public not to
   immediately believe that the phenomenon was man-made.
          © Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2002

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