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Naga fireballs

From Academic Kids

The Naga fireballs (Thai บั้งไฟพญานาค, bangfai payanak) are a phenomenon seen in Nong Khai province, Isan, Thailand and Laos, in which glowing balls rise from the Mekong river. The balls are reddish in colour and about the size of an egg; they rise a couple of hundred metres before disappearing. The number of fireballs is variable, being reported at between tens and thousands per night [1] (http://nationmultimedia.com/page.arcview.php3?clid=2&id=67912&usrsess=1).

The fireballs are most often reported around the night of Wan Awk Pansa in October, although displays have also been reported in March, April, May, June and September [2] (http://nationmultimedia.com/page.arcview.php3?clid=11&id=68757&usrsess=1).

The cause of the phenomenon is unclear: it has been proposed that the balls are produced by the fermentation of sediment in the river, which can combust in the particular river and atmospheric conditions of the nights in question. A programme on Thai television in 2002 suggested that they were produced by tracer fire from soldiers on the Lao side of the river. This provoked furious protests from local villagers, who believe that the balls are produced by a mythical serpent, the Naga or Phaya Naga, living in the river. Even normally serious newspapers supported the Naga theory [3] (http://nationmultimedia.com/page.arcview.php3?clid=11&id=68828&usrsess=1).

The phenomenon has gained much prominence since the furore over the TV programme, as well as the film Mekong Full Moon Party. Previously known as the ghost fireballs, the event has now had its name changed and is being promoted as a festival to attract tourists.

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