UK farmers warn against Lunar New Year lanterns

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British farmers urged revellers celebrating Lunar New Year on Wednesday to avoid marking the event with flying lanterns, warning that they can kill cattle and cause serious fires.

The paper lanterns are sent up into the air with a candle burning inside, providing a beautiful display against the night sky.

But the National Farmers Union (NFU) said it had recorded a number of crop fires caused by the lanterns, and warned that the metal wires that make up the frames are eaten by cattle or can get tangled around their feet.

"Chinese New Year is one of the most vibrant and colourful events in the calendar and thousands of people will want to take part," said Erika Coghlan, the NFU's director of communications.

"However, we really hope that people will think twice about releasing Chinese lanterns because they can cause cattle deaths and serious fires, as well being a litter nuisance."

The NFU noted that the fire brigade, the Civil Air Authority and the coastguard had all reported issues related to lanterns ahead of the start of the Year of the Rabbit on Thursday.

© 2011 AFP

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