Special trip to shrine ends in shock

The last time Madam Michelle Heng, 58, visited Thailand's Erawan shrine was more than 20 years ago, when she wanted to seek divine help from its famous four- faced god to help her conceive.

The housewife's desperate prayers were answered when she later gave birth to her only child, Mr Donovan Chan, who is now 21.

When the mother and son visited Thailand last Saturday on a four- day vacation, they decided to make a special trip to the shrine on Monday to give thanks before they headed home to Singapore yesterday.

But they did not make it for the flight.

A bomb hidden in a backpack and planted underneath a bench in the shrine exploded and left them badly injured, but thankfully alive.

The fatal attack killed 20 people, including foreigners.

Mr Chan suffered burns on his right hand and the right side of his face, as well as superficial cuts from tiny pieces of shrapnel.

He cannot hear clearly from his right ear at the moment.

His mother had an operation yesterday morning to remove pieces of shrapnel in her right leg.

She is also hooked to a ventilator to help her breathe because she inhaled a lot of smoke in the fire.

She was unable to speak when the The Straits Times visited them in hospital yesterday.

Recalling the incident, Mr Chan said he was praying with his back turned to the bomb site moments before the device went off.

"There were injured people everywhere and dead people around me," said Mr Chan, who is currently unemployed.

He started looking for his mother, and found her sitting on the floor looking shocked.

He tried to pull her up, but her leg was injured.

The blast was so strong that two cellphones which Madam Heng was carrying were damaged.

Mr Chan hopes to transfer his mother to a private hospital in Thailand and then, if everything goes well, send her back to Singapore for treatment.

Two relatives flew in yesterday to be with them and hoped to arrange a medical evacuation.

Trying to sound upbeat despite their injuries, Mr Chan said there is no point feeling down now.

"Because whatever has happened has happened. So now the priority is to get well."


This article was first published on August 19, 2015.
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