A company organising homemade missile competitions for Thai gamblers in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district has come under fire after the plastic rockets fell onto roofs and frightened villagers.
On Friday, about 50 Thais ventured to Dangrek Mountain and paid about $8 to watch four rockets, almost 2 metres in length, be launched up to 300 metres into the air as part of an event run by Phal Samom Khemarak Development Company.
Popular in Thailand, where betting on the rockets is restricted to national holidays, the contests see punters split into groups and wager on the height, speed and direction of the missile’s flight, with the winner determined by a technical committee, said organiser Phal Samom.
Samom, who has a licence for the events and has run two previously, added they were a great tourist draw for the former Khmer Rouge stronghold.
“The firework competition does not cause harm; it makes the people happier and draws visitors and people who fire the fireworks, since it is not like the normal fireworks fired during Khmer New Year,” he said.
Locals, however, were less enthused when the shells of the missiles plummeted onto their houses, said Trapaing Brei commune resident Hang Sat, 44.
Although causing no damage, “it frightened the villagers so much,” Sat said.
Commune police chief Hing Thoeng said though it had a licence to run the competitions, the company wasn’t permitted to import or make the rockets. Thoeng classified Friday’s launch as a “test” rather than a competition, saying the company would run a competition later in the year if it received permission.