Revelers screamed and ran when a fiery sign reading “Happy New Year 2017” rained fire upon them just after midnight, an incident caught in a number of videos and images posted to social media.
“My whole body was burning; I could feel sparks stinging my face, legs and arms. It felt as though all of my skin was on fire,” Kiwi Madison Reidy told New Zealand’s News Now.
Reidy said gusting winds blew the embers onto where people were dancing.
British tabloid Daily Mirror includes an unsubstantiated report that someone died in the incident.
Calls to island authorities went unanswered Monday. Reached for comment, Lt. Col. Somsak Noorod of Koh Phangan police said there could not have been fireworks on New Year’s Eve as fireworks are banned.
His boss, police chief Somchai Nopsri, repeated that but said it didn’t apply to the sign.
“But yes, there was a thing reading ‘Happy New Year 2017.’ It wasn’t fireworks,” Col. Somchai said. “I don’t know what it was called. That thing is still here with me.”
He said he felt the heat as well.
“I was there at the scene. I’d say it was like a torch, not fireworks,” Somchai said. “It rained down on me too.”
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