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Friday, 28 January, 2000, 23:31 GMT
Taiwan takes fizz out of fireworks

new year celebration No New Year party is complete without fireworks


By Francis Markus in Taipei

The authorities in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, have been working on a new measure to reduce the debris and danger from millions of firecrackers let off every year to mark the Chinese New Year.


New Year facts
Celebrated on the first day of Chinese lunar calendar
Each year is named after one of the 12 animals according to Chinese zodiac
Debts are settled, prayers and offerings are made
Celebration ends with lantern procession on 15th day
They have produced thousands of tapes of firecracker noise which they are distributing free of charge to households and organisations to try to stop them using real firecrackers.

Over the few days of Chinese New Year celebrations every year, the cities and countryside of Taiwan rattle to the sound of barrages of firecrackers being let off to scare away ghosts and bring good fortune.

The Year of the Dragon, which begins next week, will be no exception.

Accidents and debris

But at least in the capital, Taipei, city authorities are making some efforts to reduce the danger of accidents and the debris of spent crackers littering the streets.


cassette tape Can it replace the real thing?
The city government's environmental protection department has produced 6,000 cassette tapes of firecracker noise for free distribution to individuals or organisations to try to wean them off real firecrackers.

An official in the department told the BBC that about 1,100 tapes had been handed out so far and many more requests were expected to come in by post in the next few days.

He said the exercise so far had been much more successful than a previous try several years ago when authorities produced a tape that was just three minutes long.

But it will not be clear until the celebrations get under way next week whether the idea really catches on, or proves something of a damp squib.

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16 Feb 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Happy Year of the Rabbit

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