Phuket Gazette

PATONG: There will be a memorial service for victims of the December 26 tsunami at midnight tonight at the west end of Soi Bangla, near the Patong waterfront.

The event is being organized jointly by the Phuket Tourism Association and the Patong Beach Hotel Business Association as a way for survivors to remember friends and relatives who perished in the tragedy.

Panu Maswongsa, Vice-President of Marketing of the Phuket Tourism Association, told the Gazette, “Many tourists came to Phuket to celebrate the New Year, and we are doing this as a way to commemorate those among them who died in the tsunami.”

“People who want to take part in the memorial should bring one candle each. These will be lit at midnight and we will observe a moment of silence for all victims,” he said.

Interior Minister Bhokin Bhalakula is expected to attend, he added.

Parking will be available at the parking lot on the beach road.

The national government has canceled official New Year’s Eve celebrations as part of the national mourning, but sources in Patong have told the Gazette that more and more bars and entertainment venues are reopening for business – and the government will allow bars to stay open all night.

They expect tonight to be a particularly emotional New Year’s Eve, ringing in 2005 in somber remembrance of the dead and then turning into a full celebration of life in the typical Patong fashion.

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