19 funeral pyres rise for the victims of the Nong Bua Lamphu mass murder
The Abbot said this was the first mass cremation at the temple and hopefully the last.
Among the 19 victims to be cremated is an eight-month-pregnant teacher who lost her life with 24 infants at the Tambon Uthai Sawan administrative organization’s kindergarten.
Fired police officer Panya Khamrab killed 36 people in a deadly killing spree that began in the nursery when the toddlers were taking a nap on Thursday. He then murdered several other victims, including his wife and son, on the way home before turning the gun on himself.
Meanwhile, preparations are underway at nearby Wat Sri Uthai in Na Klong district for the cremation of another 11 victims of the massacre. Among them are the bodies of Panya’s wife and son, who are being taken away by relatives for cremation at another temple in their home province.
On Monday, workers at Wat Sri Uthai hooked up an electric furnace borrowed by Samut Sakhon for the mass cremation.
Chanpen Dejpok, head of Moo 1 village, confirmed the temple is holding prayers for the 11 victims, but relatives of Panya’s wife and three-year-old son would take the bodies home for cremation.
Charnnarong Chaibangyang, the maker of the electric furnace, said cremation of each body would take about half an hour in separate ceremonies.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, has issued a statement expressing its sadness and shock at the mass killing of young children.
“UNICEF condemns all forms of violence against children. No child should be the target or witness of violence anywhere, anytime,” the statement said.
“Early Childhood Development Centers, schools and all learning spaces must be safe havens for young children to learn, play and grow during their most critical years.
“UNICEF extends its heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathy to the families who lost loved ones and those injured. We mourn with everyone in Thailand and hope that those affected will receive timely and appropriate support.”
On Sunday, Pope Francis prayed for the grieving families of the victims of the massacre, the Catholic Social Community of Thailand (CSCT) said.
“We pray for the dead in Thailand’s tragedy, especially innocent children, and [may they be sent] to his arms,” Pope Francis prayed, as quoted by the CSCT. “We also pray that God will bring unity to the grieving families and to the injured.”
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