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Nitinai Sornsongkram in 2006, about the time the Nepalese man was named

Tsunami Victim Family Reunion At Last

Friday, November 28, 2014
PHUKET: An audit at the Tsunami Victim Cemetery north of Phuket has produced 29 extra sets of remains - and led to the return of one man to his children after an eight-year delay.

The man, originally from Nepal, spent most of his life in Burma. He was identified as a tsunami victim on January 18, 2006, but no relative came to reclaim his body - until yesterday.

His now-grown 19-year-old son, who now lives in Khao Lak, and his daughter, who now lives in Phuket, took back the body yesterday with the help of the Hindu Association of Phuket, and held a cremation ceremony.

With the tenth anniversary of the 2004 tsunami looming on December 26, authorities have been clarifying the number of still-unidentified bodies. For years the figure of 388 has been quoted.

But today Nitinai Sornsongkram, who manages the cemetery at Baan Bang Maruan, north of Phuket, said the total was now 416 unclaimed bodies. He said the tally was 369 unidentified bodies, plus 47 bodies that had been identified, but not reclaimed.

Of those bodies not reclaimed, 23 were Thais and 24 Burmese.

Among the total of just under 5400 people killed in the tsunami in Thailand, about half were Thais and half were tourists and Burmese laborers. Sweden and Germany were the two European nations that suffered the greatest loss, about 1080 between those two countries alone.

Bodies were not restored to their families because some Thai and Burmese families were too poor to come to collect them. In a few cases, families were sent the money and chose to spend it on more pressing needs.

Contacting the relatives of the Burmese within Burma (Myanmar) was difficult at the time because the junta was still in power. Burmese workers who came to Thailand illegally were not recognised by the Burmese government.

The cemetery north of Phuket is being transformed into a war-graves style memorial in time for tenth anniversary services.

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