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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

Guru Careers: Technical Director / Digital Director / Development Director

£75 - 85k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Technical Director / Digital Director / ...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen