District and commune leaders will be held responsible if firecrackers and flaming sky lanterns are detected in their localities during Tet.

The Hanoi People's Committee said anyone involved in making, carrying, storing, selling or using firecrackers and sky lanterns would be charged with an offence.

The chairman of the municipal People's Committee, Nguyen The Thao, asked district authorities to follow the guidelines.

Firecrackers have been banned in Vietnam since 1995, but they can occasionally be heard during festivals and weddings as they are said to dispel evil spirits.

Sky lanterns, a more recent introduction, have been filling the skies during festivals in recent years, but they are also blamed for many fires as they fall burning to the ground.

In Hanoi in 2007, six fires were caused by sky lanterns, and in 2008 there were 10 cases.

Last Lunar New Year, two sky lanterns stuck in power lines caused a blackout in the city. Thousands of households were without power for nearly a day.

People producing, selling and burning fire crackers will be punished based on Instruction 406 issued in 1994. Violators will be fined up to 5 million VND (250 USD) or even imprisoned.

Do Van Yen, head of Kim Lien Ward Public Order Committee, said last year his ward authority confiscated more than 20 strings of fire crackers and dozens of boxes of illegal fireworks.

"This year we will have more police and militiamen on patrol around the ward to prevent fire crackers from being sold or used," he said.

Meanwhile, in the northern province of Hai Duong, authorities have destroyed 205.9kilo of illegal firecrackers confiscated by the provincial Market Watch from last June./.