Thais discover 700 bodies in single resort

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The Independent Online

The estimated death toll inThailand doubled overnight after 700 bodies were found in the wreckage of hotels on one stretch of beach on the mainland north of Phuket island.

The estimated death toll inThailand doubled overnight after 700 bodies were found in the wreckage of hotels on one stretch of beach on the mainland north of Phuket island.

Khao Lak beach, in Phang Nga province, is now thought to be the site of the most casualties. The authorities said that at least 1,000 people died there, and Thaksin Shinawatra, the Prime Minister, predicted yesterday that the final toll would surpass 2,000.

Many foreigners are believed to be among the dead. Their bodies were found among the rubble of exclusive hotels overlooking a six-mile sweep of beach, on the foreshore and in inland pools. Yesterday, 200 corpses, up to 70 per cent of them tourists, were taken to the Buddhist Rasneramith temple. Children and babies were among them.

Near the devastated Similan Beach and Spa Resort, where 60 tourists, mainly German, had been staying, the body of a naked man hung from a tree. A police patrol boat lay beached in the forest, more than half a mile from the sea.

At Khao Lak, rescuers recovered bodies from the rubble of upmarket resorts such as the Sofitel Hotel where 500 guests and staff were still missing yesterday. Most victims were in the dining room when the tsunami struck, snapping concrete pillars in half and destroying two of its three floors.

At the Ban Khao Lak Hotel, Bejkhajorn Saithong was searching for his wife among wreckage from which body parts jutted out. "I think this is her," he said. "I recognise her hand, but I'm not sure." Many corpses still lay buried in the rubble and mud.

"Khao Lak will take several years to restore," Mr Shinawatra said. The government ordered three days of mourning.

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