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Rain and roses as Bangla Road sends up prayers for its nameless dead

Phuket Farewells Disco Departed: Photo Special

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
PHUKET: It was a night of rain and roses, a night for Patong to farewell the victims of the Tiger Disco inferno in the inimitable style of Soi Bangla.

About 2.25am, a drunken female tourist collapsed in the street and her boyfriend discovered, probably to his horror, that she was too heavy to carry.

Another woman, dressed in an American flag, left a bar and danced in the rain. Wet police moved in to close venues that should have been shut by 2am.

And a group of statuesque katoey ladyboys, dressed in feathers and finery, carried long banners of condolences into place outside the Tiger, which was ravaged by an after-hours blaze that is still being investigated.

In the rain, hundreds of people, a motley crosssection of all that Soi Bangla has to offer, gathered under umbrellas to mourn four people whose names we still do not know.

Behind the barriers, tourists streamed towards the tuk-tuks after another big Bangla night. There were muscled-up young men wearing no shirts, umbrella vendors doing a good trade, and drinkers and bar girls wearing each other.

At the propitiously chosen time of 2.39am, the memorial ceremony began.

In the hour that followed, hundreds of roses were placed on the ground outside the disco and an equal number of prayers were sent up for the nameless departed and the future of Patong.

When the formal speeches by the Patong Entertainment Association's Prab Keesin, other officials and senior police were over, the street gathering transformed into a gospel-style prayer meeting.

'Amazing Grace' lilted over the speakers and was followed by 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus.' The microphone was passed from hand to hand, with tears being shed and stories being told.

One woman, the owner of a nearby bar, said that she'd reserved a table on the dance balcony at Tiger every Thursday night for years but last week she felt sick and went home after a few minutes.

She hugged an organiser and shed a tear.

An Australian tourist waving a bottle of Singha took his turn with the mike, offering a wide brown land profundity: ''They died having fun. Shit happens.''

Already there's talk of the ghost of a woman being seen around the blackened building, but perhaps when the four bodies are named later today, the ghost will be satisfied and leave.

Life will go on in Soi Bangla, regardless.

The minute of silence was as solemn as Phuket's most famous street ever gets. And who knows? Perhaps the Aussie was right.

As daylight breaks today, many will be hoping that the memorial remains a one-of-a-kind event, and that it will never have to be repeated.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Not everything was closed it was charade for the media. Soi Eric still open at 4am.

Posted by LJ on August 21, 2012 12:22

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Not everything was closed it was charade for the media. Soi Eric still open at 4am.

Posted by LJ

Don't worry LJ its OK...it was raining so its OK to be open past 2:00..The patrons need a place to shelter from the rain

Posted by sky on August 21, 2012 12:37

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Dear friends

We are the Maronite Forum of Cyprus. Our site is www.maroniteforum.com and we also have a facebook account on https://www.facebook.com/maroniteforum.marforum

Since the blaze on Friday 17th at the Tiger Club in Phuket we are tuned to both your site http://phuketwan.com as well as to your facebook account.

We are compatriots and from the same Maronite Community as one of the probable victims the missing person Michael Tzouvannis and we would be very grateful as soon as the forensic experts identify the four victims you inform us by return e-mail as we are all in agony and we pray for Michael.

Thanks and regards
For The Maronite Forum
Sharbel Tzoutzoukis
Administrator

Posted by Maronite Forum on August 21, 2012 13:47

Editor Comment:

Hello Sharbel, We are just as keen as you are to learn the identities of the fire's victims and we will post the news as soon as it becomes available. DNA matching meets international standards of 99.9 percent or better identification. But it takes time.

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Dear Editor,
Thanks for your prompt response which we appreciate a lot and which we passed on to our readers. We will be very grateful indeed of as soon as you get the results of the DNA with positive recognition you let us know. Already his own family is by 99% sure that he is one of the four victims and this is sure hurts a lot. Hope dies always last, as we say.

Posted by Maronite Forum on August 21, 2012 15:33

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As nice as such gestures and displays are, what I really want to see is stern action in enforcing the laws.

PW report on safety inspections was chilling to read and hopefully serves as an eye-opener to those empowered to change the situation.

" Not my job " " I don't know " " I never check" " Go talk to _______"

When there are no consequences for those flaunting the law, there's no incentive for a change either.

Fortunately a BP Editorial today is calling for stiff penalties for owners.

" Closing recalcitrant businesses and criminal prosecutions of their owners and managers will certainly receive strong support from the entire country."

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/308575/fire-safety-flouted-again

Posted by Andrew on August 21, 2012 15:51


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