Thais complain as BBC 'reopens tsunami wounds'

The BBC says its forthcoming mini-series, Aftermath, is a "thought-provoking drama of loss, survival and hope". But for many Thais who lost their families in the 2004 tsunami, the film-makers are reopening wounds.

Further outrage has greeted the decision to hire Thais to play corpses at a cut-rate pay of £6 a day for the series, to be broadcast later this year.

Film crews from BBC2 and Warner Brothers' HBO, shooting on location on the Andaman coast for a two-part television mini-series based on the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, are busy making drama out of a crisis.

But some survivors in Khao Lak and Phuket, two of the hardest-hit resorts in Thailand, complain that realistic recreations of the catastrophe are stirring up painful new nightmares,

"It's not right," Trongchai Pachkrau told The Nation newspaper. The former boatman witnessed the deadly waves at Phi Phi island and is stilltoo frightened to work at sea.

"Why are they doing this? It's too early," said Sawitree Kulmat, a tour guide who has seen her revenues plummet because Asian tourists fear wandering ghosts and book their trips elsewhere.

"Nobody wants this. Everyone is trying to forget," she said. " What about people who lost their families?"

Barely 18 months have passed since three-storey-high waves drowned 5,395 people on Thailand's shores and left 2,817 missing and presumed dead. Hundreds of cadavers still await identification. Many survivors are still homeless.

Colin Callender, the president of HBO Films, said the shows would be " dedicated to exploring the cultural and personal fault lines that can be ruptured by such a catastrophe".

The actors who play the Westerners whose idyllic holidays were curtailed by the quake-generated waves include Tim Roth, the British Oscar nominee, and the Australian actress, Toni Collette.

The mini-series features young parents mourning their baby, a British woman whose husband and son get swept away, an aggressive reporter and an overwhelmed British diplomat. The programme is scheduled to be aired in December.Under swollen clouds in the off-season, initial filming ended last month in Phuket. Now the crew is in Khao Lak, where naked survivors of the Tsunami once clung to trees as the backwash from 15-metre waves hurled chunks of concrete and broken glass at them.

"It's disgusting. I almost had a heart attack when I saw a bunch of wrecked cars and a longtail boat up by the bridge. The first moment was pretty terrible - real déjà vu. I thought maybe it was a flash flood," said Bodhi Garrett, the director of North Andaman Tsunami Relief, which runs education and economic recovery programmes for victims. "If there had been a simple warning sign that this was staged for the cameras there would have been a lot less offence caused."

The jungle highway was littered for months by the rusted hulks of boats and cars and the holiday gear unclaimed by the dead.

Mr Garrett said: "If some profits go towards helping local victims recover, that would be better." He was pleased to learn Thai extras would receive 400 baht [£6], almost double the standard wage for a day labourer.

But Robert Reynolds, who runs a charity for tsunami orphans in Krabi province, was incensed after discovering Western extras were routinely paid 1,400 baht [£20]. He says he wrote to executives at the prize-winning Kudos productions, demanding that they take care not to offend. "Thais lost everything," he pointed out to The Nation. "They had no homes to go back to."

Spokesmen from HBO and the BBC were unavailable for immediate comment last night.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - London - £40K plus benefits - Salary negotiable

£38000 - £40000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: A leading consu...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police