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Wrong corpse: cremation cut short

ANG THONG: A funeral was called to an abrupt halt on December 12 after mourners opened the coffin just before the cremation was to begin and realized they were about to burn the wrong corpse.

The funeral was ostensibly for 39-year-old Prachuap Arachon, found dead of apparent heart failure in Chachoengsao at the end of October.

Finding Mr Prajuap’s ID card on the body, Chachoengsao Police managed to track down who they thought were the dead man’s relatives in Ang Thong and arrange for the body to be returned home.

Khomkrit Khrongton, who helped raise the orphaned Mr Prachuap, agreed to host the funeral as Mr Prachuap’s true relatives are very poor.

Mr Khomkrit arranged the funeral to be held at Wat Chang in Ang Thong’s Wiset Chai Chan District. The service began on December 11 with prayers for the deceased. The cremation was scheduled for the following day.

When they opened the coffin before the cremation, however, they found that the body inside was certainly not that of Mr Prachuap.

Wichit Iamsamang, a former village chief and Mr Prachuap’s stepfather, said that Mr Prachuap didn’t visit his home village very often.

“I’m fairly sure the body in the coffin isn’t Mr Prachuap. It doesn’t look like him at all,” Mr Wichit said after seeing the body.

“We decided to stop the cremation, as it’s against the law [to cremate an unknown body without permission]. We’ll have to try and find out whose body it actually is. We will contact Chachoengsao Police and the rescue foundation that brought us the body. We’re also going to try and find Mr Prachuap to make sure he is still alive,” he added.

After contacting police, it emerged that in September Mr Prachuap reported to police that he had lost his national ID card.

Relatives then rang friends and acquaintances of Mr Prachuap and soon found someone who confirmed that they had seen Mr Prachuap a couple of days earlier – and he was very much still alive.

Mr Khomkrit said that the funeral arrangements had cost him 32,555 baht.

The corpse of the unknown man will eventually be cremated as a pauper if his identity cannot be confirmed or his relatives contacted.

Friends and relatives did not explain why no-one had thought to positively identify the body before the funeral.

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