Britons meet their tsunami helper

A Phuket roadside restaurant owner has been reunited with two British siblings she helped 10 years ago during the Boxing Day tsunami for the first time.

Yupin Sengmuang, who runs a small roadside restaurant and grocery in Traitrang, Kathu district, revealed Sunday she had met with sister and brother Emily and Ben Willgrass a couple of days ago after they came to visit her at the restaurant. 

The Britons earlier asked the media to allow them to privately meet with Mrs Yupin, saying they needed privacy. Emily and Ben lost their mother in the tsunami waves on the day they met Mrs Yupin. 

On the day of the tsunami, Mrs Yupin and her ex-husband Pichet Buaniam, who then ran their business further up the road from the current spot, took care of and sheltered Emily and Ben, then aged 16 and 14, while their father went out to find their mother in the dark.

The Thai couple also drove the family over 870km to Suvarnabhumi airport so the Britons could fly back home since Phuket airport was out of action.

Ben and Emily only had the couple’s photograph and knew just their first names. On July 15, Ben posted a message on his Facebook page seeking help from anyone who could locate Mrs Yupin and Mr Pichet and he quickly received help from members of online communities and local media.

Mrs Yupin, now divorced and living with her son, described the meeting with the siblings for the first time in a decade as “delightful and overwhelming”.

“We hugged each other, tears then flew and we cried without reason. They greeted me and thanked me for helping them on the day of the tsunami," she said.

Mrs Yupin said Emily and Ben had visited her every day at different times over the past few days during their stay in Phuket. She said the two enjoyed Thai food such as pad thai and tom yum koong which she cooked for them.  

Mr Pichet has reportedly moved back to his home province of Phatthalung. Phuket governor Maitree Inthusut on Sunday evening went to see Mrs Yupin and congratulated her on the reunion with the two tsunami survivors.

Share your thoughts

Back to top

More From Bangkokpost.com