The drones were meant to be a part of a light show staged above a shopping mall in the central city of Zhengzhou in Henan province on Friday, when the drones came crashing down, sending horrified spectators scrambling for cover.
Several viral social media videos of the incident showed the drones forming the name of the shopping mall. But in the middle of the performance, at least a dozen of them went dark and began dropping off from the sky onto nearby buildings, parked cars and spectators.
A 200-drone light show in Zhengzhou, China ended disastrously during the weekend, with drones plummeting into cars and buildings. Thankfully, no injuries were reported after the incident [read more: https://t.co/MjwZSnC5lx] pic.twitter.com/DQZcAlerWO
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) October 4, 2021
One of the witnesses, identified only by his family name Wang, told local broadcaster Henan TV that there were children among some 5,000 people who had gathered to watch the spectacle.
The witness said people ran with hands over their heads to save themselves from injuries.
The reason for the malfunction has not been ascertained yet, but organisers told state-run news agency China News Service that “operation errors” may have led to the failure.
Police are investigating the role of a rival operator, who could have jammed the transmission signals, according to some media reports.
Social media users poked fun of the incident by sharing memes and jokes.
The drones achieved sentience, then committed mass suicide at the realization?
— MBBrownSF says Beat LA (@MBBrownSF3) October 4, 2021
This is not the first time a drone show has malfunctioned in China.
Drone light shows have become increasingly popular in the country in the past few years, with local businesses and tourist attractions using extravagant drone performances to attract crowds.
Last year in May, about 17 drones crashed during a holiday performance in Chengdu city. It was later found upon investigation that a rival drone company had caused the failure using drone jammers.