Authorities prepare to move Yan Yao bodies

PHANG NGA: The stench from the 1,000-plus corpses of tsunami victims being held at Wat Yan Yao now permeates the temple and the area around it, and local people are too scared to enter the wat to make merit.

Authorities are therefore planning to move the bodies to the Thai Tsunami Victim Identification Center (TTVI), in Mai Khao, Phuket.

However, Phang Nga Governor Anuwat Metheeviboonwut stressed today that he will not allow the corpses to be moved until he has consent from families who have lost loved ones.

Gov Anuwat said that TTVI Chief Pol Gen Noppadol Somboonsab has already approved the transfer of the corpses and, he pointed out, “The TTVI can currently identify 100 corpses a day, while at Wat Yan Yao about five to 10 corpses are being identified daily. Moreover, the [TTVI] is full of specialist equipment and DVI [Disaster Victim Identification] experts from 33 countries,” he said.

However, he added, “Local people are divided on whether the bodies should be moved to Mai Khao. I agree [that the bodies should be moved] because Wat Yan Yao should be allowed to recover after being used so much during the crisis,” Gov Anuwat.

He added that the Phang Nga authorities will organize two round-trip bus services a day to take families from Phang Nga to the TTVI. “They will be able to search for their loved ones [there] just as they do at Wat Yan Yao,” Gov Anuwat said.

“I will ensure that they understand that they will be able to meet their loved ones after the process of identification is complete,” he said.

Currently, the sheer number of bodies being kept at Wat Yan Yao is creating problems.

“The situation at Wat Yan Yao makes it difficult for monks to perform religious ceremonies … The smell is all over Wat Yan Yao and people are too scared to make merit at the temple because it is full of corpses,” he said.

Gen Noppadol said, “If Gov Anuwat can make the people understand this process, we will transfer the corpses to Phuket immediately. Wat Yan Yao is not suitable for the long-term identification of corpses. This process will bother the monks and the people near the wat.

“In addition, this wat is beside a canal, which may result in the spread of disease,” Gen Noppadol said.

Phuket News

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