Connect with us


Only flicker of light at Phuket tsunami memorial ceremony



PHUKET: After much fanfare marking the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami last year, the Light Up Phuket memorial on Patong Beach was extraordinarily quiet.

In years past, the entire beach was lit up with candles decorating sand sculptures. However, this year, no free candles or flowers were handed out, and only about twenty candles were set out in memory of the more than 5,000 people who died in Thailand from the devastating waves. Last year, the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization provided a budget for candles and other items to mark the 10th anniversary.

“We are deeply sorry for the people we have lost. They will never be forgotten,” said Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada during an opening speech to about 30 people at the main stage in Patong. “Because we lost so much, we have learned so much. We have learned about how tsunamis work; we have learned how to help each other; we have learned to deal with mortality; we have learned what we need to do to prevent such natural disasters from destroying our communities.”

Governor Chamroen led other Phuket officials in laying out flowers in memory of the victims.

“Though we still feel the loss, we also have the memories of coming together and uniting as a community to comfort and heal those most in need. Walking together, we can now see how strong and beautiful Phuket has once again become,” said Patong Mayor Chalermluk Kebsup. “Those who were not able to attend the memorial service on Saturday can still come to the beach and light candles or place flowers to pay their respects to those we have lost.”

One man, who had fled Phuket after the tsunami, returned to the island for the first time to attend the memorial service.

“I did not lose anyone in the disaster, but I am very sorry for those who did. My wife and I had a small restaurant in Kamala that got damaged. Then, we closed the restaurant and returned to Ghana. This is my first time here after 11 years,” Zionthai Kumah, 45, told the Phuket Gazette.

“In the morning that day, I told my wife that I wanted to go to Patong. It was so lucky that my wife said she did not feel like going there. I went jogging on the hill in Kamala instead.

“We did not really know what happened until hours later. We were lucky.”

Natthawan Juthamontri, who lost her father that day, also attended the ceremony to pay her respects.

“I am still very upset; I will never forget losing my father,” she said. “He was a retired teacher and had come to rent sun loungers at Patong Beach with my brother, it was lucky that my brother wasn’t also on the beach when the waves came – we only lost my father.”

Ms Natthawan was pregnant at the time.

“His grandson, whose face he never saw, is 11 years old already. I take my son here almost every year so that he can pay his respects to his grandfather,” Ms Natthawan said.

— Kongleaphy Keam


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand48 mins ago

Thailand News Today | Foreigners anger Chiang Mai locals for kissing in temple

World49 mins ago

Former Coventry footballer seriously ill in Thai hospital

Crime54 mins ago

Weapons used by jealous Thai man to murder and chop up lover found

Guides59 mins ago

Foodie Zone: Should you try Keto diet? 2022

Chiang Mai1 hour ago

River in Chiang Mai overflows, floods spread

Thailand2 hours ago

3-year jail term for carrying crops, fruit & veg into Japan

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand2 hours ago

Bank repossesses the wrong house in central Thailand

Thailand2 hours ago

Innocent man jailed 7 months for 15.8 million baht theft demands justice

Weather2 hours ago

Thailand’s cold season expected to hit in late October

Thailand3 hours ago

ฺThai boxer blackmails 20 women into sending nude pics

World3 hours ago

South Korea gives North Korea a warning

Visa4 hours ago

Philippines offers attractive alternative to Thailand’s 10 year LTR visa

Phuket4 hours ago

Thousands join Chinese ceremony at Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Bang Sue’s Central Vaccination Centre officially closed

Thailand4 hours ago

Nuan the cat feline good about upcoming APEC meeting

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11