By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 28 Dec: A massive fire erupted in the Drayap region of Kham Tibet, following a reported rocket booster crash. Videos circulating on social media captured the intense flames, believed to have been caused by a blast from a rocket booster that crashed in the area on 26 December.
In the footage, a Tibetan man can be heard swearing in the name of ‘Guru Rinpoche.’ Confirming the event, sources revealed that the incident unfolded in Drayap, located in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham.
An announcement on 22 December from the Debao County landing area in China’s Guangxi Autonomous Region, issued as a precautionary measure, mandated the temporary evacuation of seven townships – Chengguan, Naija, Zeroing, Longsang, Yandong, Longguang, and Ronghua. Authorities had forewarned residents about potential rocket debris falling at approximately 11 am on 26 December, urging them to seek safety in designated open areas.
However, no such special notification was issued for the Tibetan region of Drayap, located in the Chamdo prefecture. The video clearly shows the damaged section, presumably from a rocket booster, crashing in a hilly area and resulting in widespread fires.
According to a report on livemint.com today, on 26 December, around 11 am, China launched a Long March 3B equipped carrier rocket carrying three satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. A pair of boosters used in the launch reportedly fell near populated regions in Guangxi province.
Video footage captured by locals revealed a booster falling and exploding in a wooded area, while another video shows a falling booster and subsequent wreckage near a residence in the area. However, there are no videos in the report from Drayab.
The Chinese state-run Chinese Global Television Network (CGTN) also reported the launch of a rocket named Long March-11 with three satellites from waters off the coast of Yangjiang, south China’s Guangdong Province at 6:39 am on 26 December.
Although it cannot be confirmed, considering the location and timing of the launch and the content of the special announcement in Debao County, the booster that crashed and caused a fire in the Drayap area is presumably from the rocket launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.