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Udon Thani temple blaze, abbot’s death likely caused by short circuit




Investigators in Udon Thani in Thailand’s north believe a short circuit was the cause of a fire at Wat Pa Ban Tad forest temple that killed a revered abbot. The assistant national police chief yesterday led senior officers and Udon Thani’s deputy governor to inspect the fire-ravaged living quarters of Phra Ajarn Sudjai Thanthamano, the abbot, who died in the blaze.

75 year old Phra Ajarn was in his quarters when the fire broke out on the afternoon of May 22. Monks, novices and citizens tried to put out the fire and rescue the abbot, who was trapped inside. Firemen later sprayed water to douse the fire. When the flames died down, the monks rushed in to bring the abbot out. He was taken to a van and rushed to Udon Thani but died on the way.

Police say the death of the abbot drew public attention. Officers handling the case have so far interrogated 22 witnesses to find the cause of the fire. They found no traces of a struggle or bruises on the abbot’s body, nor was there any evidence suggesting the fire arson or the work of men. The assistant national police chief, who spoke after a meeting with the investigators, forensic officers and electricians, gave more weight to the electrical system as the cause of the fire.

Police made the remarks following online speculation on the cause of the fire at the famous forest temple, long  associated with the late Luangta Maha Bua Yannasampanno, thought by many of his followers to be an Arahant (someone who has attained Enlightenment).

The caretaker of the temple said donations for the cremation of Phra Ajarn Sudjai now stand at 20 million baht. Several agencies suggested part of the money should be used to improve fire prevention at the temple.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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