Multi-faith ceremony held at Erawan Shrine

MANY people conquered their fear and showed up at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok yesterday for religious rituals in honour of the 20 people killed in Monday's bomb blast at the site.

Along with making merit for the dead, it was hoped the event would boost public morale.

"I know there are risks involved [with attending the site]. Yet, I came here to offer moral support to people who need it [the victims]," Supawadee Pailanont said.

The government, with the support of the private sector and Thais in general, conducted the rituals in line with Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Christian and Sikh religions.

High-profile attendees included Deputy Prime Ministers Prawit Wongsuwan and Wissanu Krea-ngam.

The explosion at the shrine injured more than 100. The government has described it as the worst attack on Thai soil.

"The religious rituals are for auspiciousness and for the better morale of people affected by the incident," Wissanu said.

Pakapol Singror, who lost a relative in the blast, said he felt bad being at the intersection. "I hope no such attack will happen again," he said.

Woramon Hutanont, who took a day off work to attend the event, said the authorities should upgrade security to ensure people's safety and property wasn't damaged.

In addition to the rituals, there were other activities to show that Thais' hearts went out to the victims and their relatives, including a painting activity, which attracted a number of participants.

Niphon Damkor said he felt obliged to live a normal life to play a small role in helping boost foreigners' confidence in Thailand. "When we have confidence, they will too," he said.

Meanwhile, Rights and Liberties Protection Department director-general Naras Savestanan, said his department had already provided financial compensation to the families of the 14 foreigners killed.

He met with relatives of the four Chinese killed yesterday. The relatives said the Bt400,000 (S$16,000) in compensation for each family was not enough.

The money has come from the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

The relatives said if a similar incident happened in Shanghai, victims would get compensation of about 1.2 million yuan (S$264,000).

"But we have already explained everything to them. Such an incident had never happened in Thailand before," Naras said.

The ministry has contacted 113 victims or their relatives to facilitate the payment of compensation.