‘Miraculous’ boy survived Thailand’s daycare massacre by sleeping under a blanket

'Miraculous' boy survived Thailand's daycare massacre by sleeping under a blanket
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By Jiraporn Kuhakan and Poppy McPherson

UTHAI SAWAN, Thailand (Reuters) – A three-year-old boy who managed to survive last week’s massacre at a kindergarten in northeast Thailand was sleeping under a blanket in the corner of a classroom.

Paveenut Supolwong, nicknamed “Ammy”, is normally a light sleeper, but at nap time on Thursday, when the killer broke into the nursery and started murdering 22 children, Ammy was fast asleep with the blanket covering her face, their parents said.

It probably saved his life.

She was the only child in the nursery to escape unharmed after former police officer Panya Khamrap killed more than 30 people, mostly children in the nursery, in a rampage in Uthai Sawan city.

“I am in shock,” said Ammy’s mother, Panompai Sithong. “I’m sorry for other families… I’m glad my son survived. It’s a mixed feeling of sadness and gratitude.”

On Sunday, the family’s clapboard house was packed with relatives and neighbors sharing fish platters, papaya salad and musings on the tragedy.

Ammy was pampered as she played in the yard in a flowery dress, a charm tied around her neck, alternating between bewilderment and toothless grins at all the sudden attention.

Ammy’s parents said she seems to have no memory of the tragedy. Someone found her stirring in a far corner of a classroom, after the killer had left her, and pulled her out with her head covered by the blanket so she wouldn’t see the bodies of her classmates.

Of the 22 children stabbed to death, 11 died in the classroom where she slept, according to police. Two other children were in hospital with serious head injuries.


On Sunday afternoon, the family sat in a circle as a religious leader read a Sanskrit prayer book and led a Buddhist ceremony for children going through bad experiences.

Ammy sat patiently on her mother’s lap, looking around shyly with wide eyes and playing with two candles she held.

Family members splashed themselves with rice wine poured from a silver bowl and shouted wishes for good fortune.

They loaded Ammy’s tiny wrists with white string for luck, pinching her cheeks and whispering blessings.

It was a rare moment of joy in a town mired in pain.

In addition to the daycare massacre, Panya rammed his truck into bystanders on the street and shot at neighbors in a two-hour rampage. Ultimately, he killed the woman he was living with, his son, and himself.

In the united community, few have been left untouched.

From early Sunday morning, the families of the victims gathered in the temples where the bodies are kept in coffins. They brought treats for the souls of the dead, according to local traditions, including food, milk and toys.

Later in the day they sat down for a Buddhist ceremony in the nursery, where mourners left white wreaths and more gifts.

At Ammy’s house, her mother said she believed the spirits had protected her little girl.

“My son is not a deep sleeper,” Panompai said. “I think there must be some spirits covering his eyes and ears. We have different beliefs, but for me, I think he protected my son.”

Another relative told local media that Ammy’s survival was a “miracle”.

But the family had to break the news that her beloved best friend, two-year-old Techin, and her teacher had died. “I was asking her grandmother, ‘Why don’t you pick up Techin from school?'” Panompai said.

He still does not know the full extent of the tragedy he experienced.

(Written by Poppy McPherson; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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