Sky lanterns put rescue crew on false alert

2017-04-06 06:02
PHOTO: sourcedChinese lanterns should not be lit, says the NSRI.

PHOTO: sourcedChinese lanterns should not be lit, says the NSRI.

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THE NSRI has once again made an urgent appeal to the South Coast community not to set off sky lanterns.

This recently sent them on a wild-goose chase between Southnroom and Southport as the flame of the sky lantern is similar to that of red distress flares.

“Unfortunately, from a distance sky lanterns flying through the air give the same impression as red distress flares,” said Craig Lambinon, spokesperson for NRSI.

“A full-scale search and rescue operation was prepared involving NSRI Durban, NSRI Shelly Beach, the SA Police Services, NSRI spotters, MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre), Telkom Maritime Radio Services, the Transnet National Ports Authority and ships at sea in the area at the time,” he said.

Investigations led NSRI controllers to suspect they may have been sky lanterns, but the situation continued to be monitored throughout the night until it was confirmed that no vessels were in distress at sea.

Lambinon added that authorities can’t simply ignore these “suspicious red flames”.

“Even after these suspicions led us to suspect the sightings may have been sky lanterns we are forced to continue to deploy resources­ and investigate all possibilities until it can be absolutely confirmed that no persons are in distress.”

According to an article on Health24, several countries, such as Austria, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, parts of Canada and some states in the U.S. have totally banned sky lanterns.

South Africa, however, does not have a clear regulation when it comes to the sale of the product. It can also be easily purchased online.

Paddy Norman, local environmental guru, says these lanterns have the potential to cause severe damage to the environment, “especially in a country like ours”.

“We have a lot of dry grass in the dry season and this could cause fires,” he said.

He added that people must act responsibly and think about the effect the igniting of these lanterns has on others.

“What goes up must come down. This lantern then becomes litter. What if it lands on someone’s thatched roof?”

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