Rain-making rockets trigger alarm

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 June, 1996, 12:00am

More than 50 suspected missiles found in a Kwai Chung container terminal yesterday were part of a rain-making system, Customs officers said.

The objects were about 1.5 metres long and had fins. They were found in a container after a licence to collect and re-export the goods was applied for early this month.

The consignment was declared as a 'rain increase and hail defence system'. It was said that it arrived in Hong Kong from China by ship for re-export to Israel.

Rain-making and hail-defence or suppression systems are used in many countries for agricultural purposes.

Chief Trade Controls Officer Yu Chiu-yan of the Customs' Trade Investigation Bureau said yesterday: 'An examination by government classification experts shows it's not for military purposes.' The reason a strategic commodities licence was required was because the propellent contained the chemical ammonium perchlorate.

Mr Yu said the Trade Department had been told of the investigation and it was up to it whether a licence was granted. A Trade Department spokesman refused to comment yesterday.

Some designs involve the use of rockets to disperse hail storms or to drop particles into the clouds to make rain.