TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Video on Sunday (Aug. 30) has surfaced showing both the moments before and during a terrifying incident in which a toddler was yanked into the air by a kite.
On Sunday, while attending the Hsinchu City International Kite Festival at Nanliao Fishing Port with her mother, a 3-year-old girl surnamed Lin (林) was suddenly dragged into the air by the tail end of a kite. To the terror of the large crowd in attendance, the little girl was quickly flung at a lethal height in the air and was tossed around like a rag doll by the massive kite.
In the video, a crew of four men can be seen preparing a long-tailed orange kite as another man looks on to make sure the skies are clear of other kites. There are no bystanders seen within three meters of the kite.
There is even a brief glimpse of the slender tale of the oblong kite. Two more ground crew members step in to control the kite as the wind starts to pick up.
As the wind continues to intensify, the men are pushed both backward to the crowd behind them and to more onlookers to the right. Next, it is not clear whether the crew members deliberately released the kite or accidentally lost their grip.
In either case, the kite suddenly rockets up vertically as the crowd cheers, until they notice a tiny child has somehow become snagged with the tail. The kite soon hurtles to a frightening height as the crowd screams in horror.
Incredibly, the tail has become so entangled around the toddler that it does not release her as she is flailed around helplessly. The girl is continuously thrown around by the kite for a mortifying 30 seconds.
(YouTube, 兒ㄚ麵線 screenshot)
Just when it appears she is about to near the ground, the kite jerked her up one last time. Finally, she starts to spiral downward as the kite handlers seem to finally get control of their craft.
After the incident, Chang Li-ke (張力可), a Hsinchu government official, said that wind gusts that day at the festival climbed to Level 7 on the Beaufort Scale, one level below gale-force winds, reported CNA. Chang said that the city government and the organizer are responsible and that the city has begun an investigation and will create guidelines to maintain the safest distance for flying kites in the future.
He said that the event is covered by public liability insurance, with the maximum individual claim listed at NT$5 million (US$170,000), and the aggregate coverage limit is capped at NT$100 million. Chen said that officials will follow up on the status of the injured party and carry out a review to prevent such accidents from happening again.
Chen Ko-fang (鄭可方), secretary-general of the Taiwan-based Asian Kite Forum, said that the tail of the kite has a doll filled with candies that will later come down with a parachute for the children below, reported SET News.
(Facebook, Baofei Commune photo)
Chen said that onlookers are normally kept back a specified distance for safety before the kite is launched. However, because the winds were so strong that day, the crew had difficulty preparing the kite and were dislodged from the original takeoff position.
He then speculated that even though there are 20 to 30 staff members to keep children away from the kite, the child had been drawn toward the kite expecting to get some candy. He said the accident occurred when a sudden gust sent the kite airborne before the crew was ready.
Chen frankly conceded that the area cordoned off around the kite may not have been large enough. He said that the zone around the kites would be expanded in the future, with safety being of paramount importance.
On Sunday even, Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅) on his Facebook page issued an apology in which he stated that all activities at the festival have been suspended to ensure public safety. He said that after being taken to the hospital, the child is in good condition and has been taken home to recuperate.
The mayor said that on behalf of the city of Hsinchu, he expressed his "deepest apologies" to the child and her family and to the public in general. He pledged that the city government will investigate the incident to prevent similar incidents from occurring again and will he will also hold those responsible accountable and conduct a thorough review.