Families bid farewell to Thai day-care center massacre victims at cremation ceremony

Monk lighting funeral pyres
A monk lights the funeral pyres of the victims of last week’s massacre at a day-care center in northeastern Thailand.
(Sakchai Lalit / Associated Press)

Hundreds of mourners and victims’ families gathered Tuesday evening for the cremation ceremonies of the young children and others who died in last week’s massacre at a day-care center in Thailand’s rural northeast.

The families bade their final goodbyes at a Buddhist temple a short distance from the Young Children’s Development Center in the town of Uthai Sawan, where a former policeman, who was fired from his job earlier this year for using drugs, barged in last Thursday and shot and stabbed children and their caregivers.

The police sergeant, Panya Kamrap, ended up killing 36 people, 24 of them children, in this small farming community before taking his own life. It was the biggest mass killing by an individual in Thailand’s history.


The ceremonies for most of the victims were held jointly to spare families from having to wait long hours for successive cremations to be completed, said Phra Kru Adisal Kijjanuwat, the abbot of the Rat Samakee temple.

On Tuesday morning, many of the young victims’ bodies had been outfitted as doctors, soldiers or astronauts — what they wanted to be when they grew up — before they were to be cremated in the evening.

Volunteer rescue worker Attarith Muangmangkang said his organization arranged for the costumes and assisted the families with changing the victims’ outfits Tuesday.

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Oct. 11, 2022

Mourners also placed children’s toys, candles and incense sticks in front of the victims’ portraits at the temples.

Petchrung Sriphirom, 73, was one of many local residents who traveled to the temple Tuesday to offer condolences to the families and make a small donation to help with funeral costs, which is a common Thai custom.


“I just want to help our friends and share our thoughts with them,” said Petchrung. “We are not talking about money or anything but rather sharing our thoughts and feelings as a fellow human being,”

The gunman’s body was cremated Saturday in a neighboring province after temples in Uthai Sawan refused to host his funeral, Thai media reported.