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Royally sponsored rites for massacre victims begin

Royally sponsored rites for massacre victims begin

NONG BUA LAM PHU: Religious ceremonies for all of the victims of the mass slayings in Nong Bua Lam Phu got under way on Saturday (Oct 8) with sponsorship from His Majesty the King.

By Bangkok Post

Sunday 9 October 2022, 10:35AM

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Services are being held at three temples ‒ Wat Ratsamakkee, Wat Sri Uthai and Wat Thepmongkulpichai ‒ in Na Klang district, starting with bathing rites on Saturday afternoon and leading up to cremation on Tuesday, reports the Bangkok Post.

The king, who visited the community on Friday night together with Her Majesty the Queen, sponsored both the funerals and medical treatment of the victims.

The community in northeastern Thailand is now preparing to say farewell to the 36 people slain by former policeman Panya Khamrab on Thursday. The dead included 23 children who were sleeping after lunch at the childcare centre in tambon Uthai Sawan when Panya stormed into their room with a gun and a long-bladed knife.

The attacker also killed a 24th child ‒ his stepson ‒ and his wife before taking his own life.

Ten people were injured and three have been discharged from hospitals, according to an update on Friday by the provincial public relations office.

Three boys and two girls survived the attack and all but one of those were still in hospital, according to police.

At Wat Sri Uthai, relatives and family members of those killed joined a devastated community in paying their respects.

They lit candles before coffins topped with floral wreaths and framed photographs of the dead, including toddler Pattarawat Jamnongnid, dressed in a pink American football shirt. He was one of two child victims nicknamed Captain, after a famous actor

Atop his coffin was a model dinosaur and a bottle of milk.

His mother, 40-year-old factory worker Daoreung Jamnongnid, said he was her only child and was energetic and talkative.

At two years and 10 months, he was the youngest victim, she said, and he already knew the alphabet.

“He was so smart,” Daoreung said. “He liked to watch documentaries with his father.”

At another temple, Wat Ratsamakkee, emotions were intense, with relatives crying as monks chanted.

Residents sat on carpets with hands clasped together in front a series of caskets adorned with flowers and portraits of smiling children.

A large toy sports car was placed on one of the coffins lined with gold-coloured fabric bearing Buddhist symbols.

One woman dressed in black, who lost two nephews aged 3, was seen weeping as she knelt, palms pressed against one of their coffins.

The body of the gunman will be cremated at a temple in Udon Thani after his mother, Dokmai, said temples in Nong Bua Lam Phu refused to conduct a ceremony. The name of the temple in Udon Thani was not disclosed.

Outside the daycare centre, flowers and toys offered as gifts to the departed youngsters piled up at the gates as the close-knit community struggled to comprehend the atrocity.

“I have a son myself and he likes to play with toy cars, so I thought the children killed in the attack would love it as well ‒ they were about the same age as my son,” Weerapol Sonjai, 38, told AFP after leaving an offering.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is concerned about trauma in the community in the aftermath of the tragedy, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said on Saturday.

The Department of Mental Health has urged people not to watch news coverage of the aftermath and to cease sharing violent images on social media.

“The prime minister has asked everyone to support each other and get through this brutal loss together,” Mr Anucha said.

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