King ‘shares grief’ with massacre victims

This frame grab from Royal Pool video footage made available via AFPTV on October 7, 2022 shows Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida meeting people at a hospital in Thailand's Nong Bua Lam Phu, where the monarch met survivors and relatives after a mass shooting by a former police officer at a nursery. - Thailand's king has told the families of victims of a nursery massacre that left 36 people dead that he "shares their grief" in a rare public address following one of the country's worst ever mass killings. (Photo by Royal Pool via AFPTV / AFP)

THE king of Thailand has told bereaved families he “shares their grief” in a rare public address following a nursery massacre that killed dozens.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn met survivors and relatives at a hospital in northeastern Nong Bua Lam Phu province late on Friday, a day after an ex-policeman murdered 24 children and 12 adults on a three-hour gun and knife rampage in a sleepy rural area.

Buddhist funeral rites and prayers for the dead were expected to begin later yesterday, starting three days of mourning for the victims of one of the country’s worst ever mass killings.

As the king offered his help and condolences, grieving families knelt on the hospital floor – as is Thai custom in the presence of the monarch, who is seen as semi-divine.

“I come here to give you support. I am extremely sad for what has happened. I share your sorrow, your grief,” he said in video footage published online yesterday.

“There are no words that can express the sorrow. I support you all and wish you to be strong, so the spirits of the children can be at ease.”

The king, with Queen Suthida at his side, said he would pray for the dead.

“We have to do our best, the best that we can,” he said.

The royal visit came after a day of grief at the small yellow-walled nursery on the edge of a village in Na Klang district, some 500km north of Bangkok.

Heartbroken parents placed white roses one by one on steps of the nursery where their young children’s lives were brutally cut short on Thursday afternoon by sacked police sergeant Panya Khamrab.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha joined the mourners on Friday, laying flowers and handing out compensation cheques to grieving families. — AFP

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