Thai king Maha Vajiralongkorn visits hospital after nursery massacre

Thai king Maha Vajiralongkorn visits hospital after nursery massacre

Thai king Maha Vajiralongkorn visits hospital after nursery massacre

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Friday visited a hospital treating those wounded in a gun and knife rampage by a sacked policeman that left 36 people dead, ending a day of grief and mourning by relatives.

The king is expected to meet survivors of Thursday’s attack, one of the worst mass killings in Thai history, in a rare public interaction for the monarch, who is officially regarded as a semi-divine figurehead.

Coffins bearing the bodies of the victims — 24 of them children — were earlier transported to temples to be handed over to relatives, many of whom had spent the day mourning at the nursery where their children were slain.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha laid flowers at the nursery in rural northeastern Nong Bua Lam Phu province and handed out compensation cheques to grieving families.

At one temple, 10 white and gold coffins, some so small they looked like toy boxes, were loaded into fridges in the evening ahead of the customary three days of mourning before cremation.

A young father, his face a mask of tears, staggered away from other mourners after watching his son’s coffin loaded away.

Earlier at the small, low-slung nursery, a line of heartbroken parents placed white roses on the building’s steps as the baking sun bore down.

The dead include pregnant teacher Supaporn Pramongmuk, whose husband posted a poignant tribute on Facebook.

“I would like to say thank you for all the support for me and my family. My wife has fulfilled her every duty as a teacher,” Seksan Srirach wrote.

“Please be a teacher in heaven, and my child please take care of your mother in heaven.”

Armed with his own legally purchased 9mm pistol and a knife, former police sergeant Panya Khamrab began his murderous spree at the childcare centre at about 12:30 pm (0530 GMT) on Thursday.

Following the attack, 34-year-old Panya fled the scene in a pickup truck to head home and murder his wife and son before taking his own life, police said, ending the rampage at about 3 pm. In total, he killed 24 children — 21 boys and three girls — and 12 adults.

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