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The reunion: Ben and Emily greet Khun Yupin with friends

Brits Thank Phuket Tsunami Rescuer

Friday, August 1, 2014
PHUKET: A dream is realised as Emily and Ben Willgrass reunite in private, away from the media, with the woman who helped them get from Phuket to Bangkok and a flight home after the death of their mother in the 2004 tsunami.

While the use of words such as ''heroine'' and ''savior'' is probably overstating the generosity of Yupin Sengmuang, who still runs a small roadside restaurant in Phuket, the reunion with the British pair has led to growing public awareness of the extraordinary outpouring of generosity by Thai people when the big wave swept in on December 26, 2004.

Thailand and its military government will be missing an opportunity if they do not commemorate the loss of 5400 lives for this years' 10th anniversary then celebrate the generosity and heroism inspired by the tragedy.

The real heroes deserve medals, and the moment - Thailand's worst ever natural disaster - deserves to be memorialised in tribute to the outpouring of donations from around the world to victims everywhere.

Thailand was affected but many countries suffered far worse, especially in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where 160,000 of the Indian Ocean victims' total of 220,000 died.

Many of the investigators who came to Phuket in the wake of the tsunami to identify 3000 unnamed bodies said that their own countries could not have coped the way that Thais did, with amazing generosity of the kind that Khun Yupin showed to Ben and Emily.

It is believed several documentaries are being made to mark the 10th anniversary.

All eyes will again be on Thailand as the place where people from 42 countries around the world were among the missing and injured.

The anniversary deserves to be properly marked, but officials locally and nationally have been preoccupied with other matters. Time is running out.

Ben and Emily were reunited with Khun Yupin after a brief and highly succeful campaign on Facebook and social media.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


What goes around comes around, I remember the Phuket Taxi mafia were extorting people who had lost everything, including family members, with vastly inflated prices to get them to the airport and home. What's happening to them now is celebration enough for me. Well done the rest of Thailand, and especially people like Khun Yupin who stepped up to help.

Posted by Chris Dawson on August 1, 2014 16:12


What about her former husband? He said to media he would be willing to travel to Phuket from Nakhon Si Thanarrat(?), but may be he is just too shy to meet in such setup - that includes new family of his former wife.

I think it is important to get extra reflection on those event through events and publications like above.

Posted by Sue on August 1, 2014 17:59

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