Orchard owner's lucky escape in Betong blast

Orchard owner's lucky escape in Betong blast
Terror attack: Thai policemen inspecting the damage at the scene of the blast in Betong.

YALA - A late decision to have coffee at an eatery probably spared Seah Choo Pheng from being killed in a bomb blast in Betong here on Friday.

The 68-year-old durian orchard owner had stopped to have a drink near the Holiday Hill Hotel in Pakdeedamrong Road just before the explosion occurred at about 4.30pm.

"My car was parked nearby and the alarm suddenly went off. Upon checking, I found that the headlights of the car parked in front of my car had shattered.

"I felt something amiss and I quickly drove my car away and parked elsewhere," said Seah when met at the Betong Hospital yesterday.

Seah then returned to the shop. As he was walking out of the shop after having coffee, the suspicious-looking car that was earlier parked in front of his car exploded.

"The impact of the blast was so strong that I fell down and hurt my shoulder and chest even though I was some 80m away from the car.

"I was lucky that I went into the shop to have a drink. If not, I would have been blown to pieces," he said.

Seah, who hails from Kuala Pegang, Kedah, said the incident would not stop him from visiting Betong again.

Another injured Malaysian tourist Jeemt Han Ail, 28, was believed to have sustained minor injuries on his forehead and was discharged from the hospital on the same day.

Four people were critically injured in the blast, with two of them admitted to the Betong Hospital and Yala Hospital.

Betong mayor Somyod Lertla­myong said two Thai nationals, a woman and a man, aged 23 and 32 respectively, were killed in the incident.

Since 2004, more than 6,000 people have been killed in frequent bombings and shootings in the Muslim-majority provinces in southern Thailand bordering Malaysia.

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