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Phuket remembers tsunami victims with ‘Soul of the Sea’ memorial service

Phuket remembers tsunami victims with ‘Soul of the Sea’ memorial service

PHUKET: Hundreds gathered at Patong Beach earlier tonight to join the tsunami memorial service, remembering the lives lost in the disaster 17 years ago today (Dec 26).

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Sunday 26 December 2021, 10:40PM

Tourism & Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn led the official event, this year called ‘Soul of the Sea’, at 7pm.

Following speeches by Mr Phiphat, Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panaphong and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Deputy Governor of Domestic Marketing Thapanee Kiatpaiboon, attendees were invited to place candles in the sand to remember those lost to the waves.

The day’s events began with the traditional merit making of giving alms to monks, followed by a series of activities held at Patong Beach to commemorate the anniversary.

Ms Thapanee explained that similar activities were being held in Phuket and Phang Nga to remember the calamity.

As is now tradition, the events were held at Loma Park on the Patong beach front. Smaller events were held at Chom Lay Market on the Mai Khao beachfront.

In Patong, the activities included a Tsunami Remembrance Exhibition, street music show, a light show, an orchestral performance and the candle-lighting ceremony.

Yuang Upatanon, 77, lost her younger brother, Mr Arom Kungkaew, in the disaster. His body was found three days later, she said.

“That day was a Buddhist holy day. I had prepared food to make merit at Patong Temple. I had not yet offered the food to the monks when all sorts of loud noises were heard,” she recalled.

Ms Yuang was told of the waves sweeping over the Patong Beach, devastating the shops and restaurants along the beachfront.

“While the waves were still receding, I drove my motorcycle along [Rat-U-Thit] 200 Pi Rd. Everywhere I looked, all I could see were ruins and floating debris,” she said.

Ms Yuang volunteered to help the wounded, and help recover the dead

“I helped dress more than 100 bodies, most of them foreigners,” she recalled.

In Thailand, official government estimates marked 5,078 confirmed dead, another 8,457 injured and 3,716 missing, presumed dead, all lost to the tsunami that struck in the morning on Dec 26, 2004.

While confirmed deaths in Phuket were only 259, another 700 remained listed as missing.

Phang Nga, however, bore the brunt of the tsunami, with 4,163 people confirmed dead and another 2,113 recorded as missing. Records mark that of those killed in Phang Nga by the tsunami 2,213 were foreigners – mostly tourists.

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Kurt | 28 December 2021 - 10:51:24

Wiesel, John C, my comment was about the tsunami buoys. During the horrible tsunami happening I was not yet living in Thailand. ( answer to Wiesel).  JohnC's unfounded assumptions I leave for what it is.

JohnC | 28 December 2021 - 08:52:12

Well said Wiesel. I was here and helped any way I could, from giving blood to donating clothes, etc. I lost several people dear to me from it. If kurt [edited] was here he would been hiding in his rented house whinging about lack of services caused by the disaster. Do Phuket a favour please. Leave!

Wiesel | 27 December 2021 - 22:11:52

Mr. Kurt, if you did not have been part of the group of selfless people they aktive helped in any form please shut up!! Where you have been during we carried bodies and helped to organize the chaos??

Kurt | 27 December 2021 - 12:48:33

@ Foot, oh-oh-oh. You made a wake up call. And that while thai officials responsible for functioning of the Tsunami buoys actually not want to be reminded about it until buoys are mall functioning or out of service. They want to avoid see sickness what is waiting them when they have to make a inspection voyage to the buoys.

Foot | 27 December 2021 - 12:28:23

A tragic event, indeed.  Begs the question --- Are the tsunami buoy detectors all working? Even when new, they had a tendency to not work. And, how about the sirens along the beach? Haven't heard those for many years.


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