second surge of tsunami terror is
hitting southern Thailand, but this time it is a wave of foreign ghosts
terrifying locals in what health experts described as an outpouring of
delayed mass trauma.
ghost sightings in the six worst
hit southern provinces have become endemic, with many locals saying
they are too terrified to venture near the beach or into the ocean.
volunteer body searchers on the
resort areas of Phi Phi island and Khao Lak are reported to have looked
for tourists heard laughing and singing on the beach, only to find
darkness and empty sand.
in Patong swear they have
picked up a foreign man and his Thai girlfriend going to the airport
with all their baggage, only to then look in the rear-view mirror and
find an empty seat.
beachfront plaza in Patong
told AFP one of their men had quit after hearing a foreign woman cry
"help me" all night long, and similar stories abound of a foreign ghost
walking along the shoreline at night calling for her child.
of Thais are deeply
superstitious, believing ghosts reside in most large trees and keeping
a spirit house in every home where daily offerings of food and drink
are given to calm nearby paranormal entities.
experts warn tsunami
survivors have picked up on this cultural factor as a way of expressing
mass trauma after living through the deadly waves and witnessing
horrific scenes in their aftermath.
type of mass hallucination that
is a cue to the trauma being suffered by people who are missing so many
dead people, and seeing so many dead people, and only talking about
dead people," Thai psychologist and media commentator Wallop
people who claimed to have seen
ghosts first-hand were people that mental health specialists would be
paying particular attention to.
currently organising a team
of Thai and international health workers to join other specialists in
affected provinces who are assisting people suffering psychological
trauma as a result of the crisis.
professionals alike have been
pivotal in the recovery of thousands of corpses from beaches and
coastal towns ravaged by tsunamis on December 26, and in the subsequent
processing of handling bloated and rapidly decomposing bodies at huge
round-the-clock work could be taking
a devastating toll, with at least seven workers having already been
hospitalised suffering extreme trauma.
helping at Thai temples,
transformed into scenes of grisly death as forensic experts struggle
with the task of identification, are especially vulnerable,
psychologists and doctors said.
said widespread trauma began to
set in about four days after the waves hit.
people start seeing these
farangs (foreigners) walking on the sand or in the ocean," he said,
adding the sightings started about the same time as people "began
calling for help, crying, some scared".
said they could not escape the
smell of death or the sights they had seen while assisting in the
crisis, he said.
said the reason almost all ghost
sightings appear to involve foreign tourists stems from a belief that
spirits can only be put to rest by relatives at the scene, such as was
done to many Thai victims.
believe that when people die,
a relative has to cremate them or bless them. If this is not done or
the body is not found, people believe the person will appear over and
over again to show where they are," he said.
said in time people who need
counselling would be reached and assisted and the sightings would
settle down, but many locals claimed they would not be swayed by such
visiting Wat Baan Muang (a temple
where hundreds of bodies are still stored) I'm very scared. I can't
sleep at night and when the wind comes I'm sure it is the spirits
coming," said Patong bar manager Napaporn Phroyrungthong.
ghosts and I always will.
[The tsunami] happened so quickly, the foreigners didn't know what
happened and they all think they are still on the beach. They all think
they are still on holiday," she said.