People participating in Loy Krathong, the popular lantern festival in Thailand, have been instructed not to launch sky lanterns near airport grounds in order to avoid airborne accidents  

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The air traffic control center in Chiang Mai province has declared a 5-kilometre zone around the airport where people are advised not to launch lanterns from Wednesday to Friday, when the Loy Krathong festival celebrations will take place. Anyone found releasing them near an airport could face the death penalty.  

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During the festival, Thais float small rafts into rivers to ask for forgiveness from the goddess of water. Residents in northern Thailand believe that flying the floating lanterns also will rid them of bad fortune, but it has posed aviation risks in recent years. The festival kicks off tomorrow and continues until the end of the week. 

This week’s annual Loy Krathong festival – which is sometimes translated as “to float a basket” festival – is seen as a time to reflect and ask for forgiveness from the goddess of water and several airlines, including Thai Airways, have adjusted their flight schedules to give way to the lantern floating, which takes place mainly after dark. 

The Thai police are completely serious about this, so don’t sweep this as just another hollow warning.  

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