High-wire act during kite fest

Workers from electricity company Torrent Power in Ahmedabad, India, were on a familiar beat yesterday - picking up the remnants of kites tangled up in power cables during the busy kite-flying season.

Kites are an important part of the traditions surrounding the Makar Sankranti festival, which marks the beginning of spring and the harvest season.

So, on Sunday, which was the day of the festival this year, people gathered to fly kites of all hues, shapes and sizes - an activity that will continue for a few more weeks.

But it is not all fun and games. Kite-flying is such serious business in some areas that it often takes a deadly turn.

Despite efforts to make them safer, kite-flying contests often see participants coating the strings of their kites with metal or crushed glass to help cut the strings of rival kites. Falling strings have been known to cut people and even kill them.

Metal-coated strings that fall on electricity lines have also caused people to get electrocuted, as well as power outages.

A report by the the Times of India newspaper on Tuesday noted that at least 16 people in Gujarat state have died and scores more injured in accidents related to kite-flying.

While most victims were killed by sharp kite strings, other deaths were the result of people falling from terraces or being electrocuted while trying to retrieve their kites.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2018, with the headline 'High-wire act during kite fest'. Print Edition | Subscribe