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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 February, 2004, 19:48 GMT
Kite deaths mar Pakistan festival
Pakistanis on rooftops watch kites flying over Lahore
It is not the first time Lahore has seen kite-related deaths
Up to nine people have been killed and dozens injured during an annual kite-flying festival called Basant in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

Three people were electrocuted when banned metal wires they were using to fly kites - or catch stray ones - fell onto electric power lines.

A young girl's throat was slit by a stray metal kite string stretched across a road, witnesses said.

At least two more people fell from roofs during the spring festival.

Two men were also reportedly killed when they were hit by cars while trying to catch stray kites.

Despite a ban on firing guns, several people were injured by stray bullets.

Officials at a Lahore hospital said 42 children and 60 adults had been treated for kite-related injuries, the AFP news agency reported.

Highly competitive

Each year the festival spells tragedy for many families, the BBC's Paul Anderson in Pakistan says.

It has become a highly competitive event in which people employ extraordinary skills to bring down - better still, capture - an opponent's kite.

The city is in the grip of a kite-flying frenzy
Sometimes they use string coated in pulverized glass to cut an opponent's kite; other times metal wire - which is often coated in corrosive chemicals, our correspondent says.

The authorities have banned the use of metal- or chemical-lined strings to try to prevent accidents or electrocutions from kite-flying.

But the city is in the grip of a kite-flying frenzy and bans do not seem to have much effect.

And the event is getting bigger and bigger: each year tens of thousands of people flock to Lahore from all around the country and beyond.

The festival has become big business. Any rooftop worth standing on is hired for corporate entertainment.

The calls for caution are usually drowned out in the excitement, our correspondent says.


SEE ALSO:
Kite deaths spark ban in Lahore
25 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Pakistan tackles killer kites
10 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Lahore kite festival takes off
11 Feb 03  |  South Asia
India celebrates kite flying
14 Jan 03  |  South Asia
India's birds face kite threat
17 Jan 03  |  South Asia


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