Forest guide made heroic sacrifice

Relatives and local tour operators are mourning the death of forest walk guide Hom Ruamjit, who sacrificed his life to save foreign tourists from paper wasps.

Religious ceremonies to remember the 69-year-old local guide were held at Wat Dong Nong Ped in Chiang Rai municipality of Chiang Rai province on Thursday.

The elderly man, from Moo 19 village in Muang Chiang Rai district, died at Chiang Rai Prachanugroh Hospital last Tuesday after being attacked and suffering major stings by a swarm of paper wasps on Monday while guiding six foreign tourists on a frequently used trail in Mae Yao sub-district.

His group walked unknowingly into an area where forest product collectors had just torn down a big paper wasp nest  and inconsiderately left it unattended and  posted no warnings.

The wasps first attacked Hom, who was leading the group, and he fell to the ground. His clients wanted to  help him, but he shouted at them to run away and save their own lives.

At the hospital "Uncle Hom", as he was called by locals, asked about the safety of his clients, who were all slightly stung. His customers all visited him at the hospital and wrote letters praising him for his heroic action, saying he had truly saved them, before they left Thailand.

 Uncle Hom had worked as a forest trekking guide for two decades. His funeral was on Friday.

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