With three helicopters crashing in just eight days, some people are convinced supernatural forces, like angry forest spirits, are to blame.
An army officer inspects the charred wreckage of the Bell 212 helicopter which went down yesterday morning about 12km from the office of the Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
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Superstitions haunt forest
With three army helicopters crashing in just eight days, questions are being asked as to whether the tragedies were the result of accidents, a conspiracy – or supernatural powers.
A number of soldiers, officers and civilians working or living in Kaeng Krachan National Park, the site of the initial stranding of a group of officers, journalists and encroachment suspects which prompted the disastrous chain of fatal rescue and retrieval operations, believe bad omens are to blame.
"The guardian spirits here are very fierce," said one resident of Ban Panern Thung village in Phetchaburi's Kaeng Krachan district.
An army pilot who was not connected with the three fatal helicopter missions said a colleague had told of a fortune teller who predicted the third crash.
He said his colleague, from Lop Buri, visited a respected clairvoyant on Saturday and was warned that a third helicopter crash would occur near the Thai-Burmese border.
This was almost certainly a reference to Kaeng Krachan, which runs right up to the border in Phetchaburi province.
In line with the prediction, a Bell 212 helicopter yesterday come down on the Burmese side, killing three of the soldiers on board and critically injuring another.
This brought the tally of deaths from the three disasters to 17, following the five who were killed when a Huey helicopter crashed in Kaeng Krachan on July 16 and the nine who perished when a Black Hawk came down just over the border three days later.
Referring to the fortune teller's prediction, the pilot said: "At first we didn't believe it.
"But when his prediction came true, we felt shocked."
An army lieutenant colonel attached to Kaeng Krachan special warfare camp in Phetchaburi said the Tanaosi range in the national park comprised more than 300 densely forested mountains.
He too believes in supernatural powers and said the camp holds a ceremony every month to appease the guardian spirits in a bid to ensure the soldiers' safety.
Royal Thai Army Aviation commander Maj Gen Pitaya Krajangwon yesterday said several pilots held superstitious beliefs and the triple tragedy had badly shaken their morale.
"We pilots must not be perturbed by those stories [of supernatural forces at play]," he said.
"We must be mentally strong, as it's our duty to fly. If pilots fear, who will fly?"
However, First Army commander Lt-Gen Udomdet Seetabut said the possibility of supernatural involvement should not be dismissed.
Lt Thanarat Sripamorn, head of the helicopter repair unit, which is attached to the army's flight centre in Lop Buri, said he was devastated because many of the officers who died were his subordinates.
He said the crashes had left him feeling depressed and apprehensive about piloting helicopters. However, he assured that he would put his fears aside and perform his duties if instructed.
Kaeng Krachan National Park head Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn said he felt bad vibes were emanating from the forest.
"I'm getting goose bumps. Everyone here is speechless," he said.
Natural resources permanent secretary Chote Trachoo attended a rite yesterday to present food offerings near Kaeng Krachan reservoir to ward off bad omens.
But Jaran Khaonum, a forest ranger, said he did not believe in supernatural forces.
He said the locations of the first two crashes are valleys with intense wind patterns which could have caused the helicopters to abruptly lose altitude.
inspect – to look at something carefully ตรวจสอบ
charred – blackened from fire ไหม้เกรียม
wreckage – the parts of a vehicle or building that remain after it has been severely damaged ซากปรักหักพัง
superstition – the belief that particular events happen in a way that cannot be explained by reason or science; the belief that particular events bring good or bad luck ความเชื่อในทางไสยศาสตร์, ความเชื่อในผีสางเทวดา
haunt –(of a ghost) to appear in a place repeatedly; to cause repeated trouble, suffering or anxiety หลอกหลอน ทำให้กังวล, รบกวน
tragedy – a very sad event that causes people to suffer or die โศกนาฏกรรม
conspiracy – a secret plan by a group of people to do something bad or illegal สมรู้ร่วมคิด
supernatural – caused by forces that cannot be explained by science สิ่งที่เหนือธรรมชาติ
civilian – someone who does not belong to the armed forces or the police พลเรือน
site – a place where something happens or happened สถานที่เกิดเหตุ
initial – early; first เบื้องต้น
strand – to leave somewhere with no way of going anywhere else ปล่อยเกาะ ทิ้งไว้
journalist – a person who writes news stories or articles for a newspaper or magazine or broadcasts them on radio or television ผู้สื่อข่าว
encroachment - gradually covering more and more of an area of land การบุกรุก
suspect – a person who is thought to have committed a crime ผู้ต้องสงสัย
prompt – to cause something to happen or be done ก่อให้เกิด
disastrous – extremely bad or unsuccessful ซึ่งทำให้เกิด (ภัยพิบัติ, ความหายนะ, ความโชคร้าย)
chain – a series of connected things or people เหตุการณ์ที่เกิดต่อเนื่องกัน
fatal – causing someone to die ถึงตาย
rescue – to save someone form a dangerous or unpleasant situation ช่วยชีวิต
retrieve – to recover; to get something back, especially something that is not easy to find ได้กลับคืนมา
operation – a planned activity involving a lot of people, especially soldiers or police officers การปฏิบัติการ
omen – a sign of what is going to happen in the future ลางบอกเหตุ
guardian spirit – a creature with magical powers that protects a particular place เจ้าที่, อารักษ์, เจ้าป่า
fierce – very strong รุนแรง, ดุเดือด
resident – a person who lives in a particular area ผู้อาศัยในบริเวณ
mission – an important job, especially a military one, that someone is sent somewhere to do ภาระกิจ, หน้าที่, งาน
colleague – someone who works in the same organisation or department as you do เพื่อนร่วมงาน
fortune-teller – a person who tells you what they think will happen to you in the future หมอดู
predict – to say that an event or action will happen in the future, especially as a result of knowledge or experience คาดการณ์ว่า พยากรณ์จากสถิติว่า
colleague – someone who works in the same organisation or department as you do เพื่อนร่วมงาน
respected – admired by many people for your qualities or achievements ที่เคารพ
clairvoyant – a person believed to have the power to be able to see future events or to communicate with people who are dead or far away หมอดู, ผู้มีญาณทิพย์
booth – a small tent or temporary structure at a market, an exhibition or a fairground, where you can buy things, get information or watch something แผงลอย,ห้องเล็ก, บูธ
in line with – similar to or corresponding with another thing สอดคล้องกับ
on board – on a ship, aircraft or vehicle บนหรือใน (เรือ, รถ, เครื่องบินหรือพาหนะอื่น)
critical – very seriously ill or injured and might die อย่างรุนแรง อย่างวิกฤต
injured – hurt in an accident or attack ซึ่งได้รับบาดเจ็บ
tally – a record or count of a number of items or things การบันทึกจำนวน
disaster – something very bad that happens and causes a lot of damage or kills a lot of people ความหายนะ ภัยพิบัติ
perish – to die, usually in a sudden way ตายทันที
lieutenant colonel – an officer of middle rank in the army พันโทหรือนาวาโท
comprise – to consist or be made up of two or more things ประกอบด้วย
dense – very thick แน่น,หนาแน่น,หนาทึบ
ceremony – a formal public event งานพิธี
appease – to say or do something in order to make someone feel less angry ปลอบใจ หรือทำให้เป็นที่พอใจ
bid – an attempt to do something ความพยายาม
ensure – to make certain that something happens or is done ให้การยืนยัน, รับรอง, ให้ความมั่นใจ
aviation – the flying of aircraft การบิน
commander – the head of an army or army unit ผู้บังคับบัญชา
triple – three times the number or size of something จำนวนสามเท่า
morale – the amount of confidence and enthusiasm, etc. that a person or a group has at a particular time กำลังใจ, ขวัญ
perturbed – worried or upset by something กังวล, ไม่สบายใจ
mentally – connected with or happening in the mind ด้านจิตใจ
involvement – the act or process of taking part in something การเกี่ยวข้อง
dismiss – to refuse to accept that something might be true or important ไม่สนใจ,แย้งกลับ
devastated – upset and shocked หมดหวัง, ตกตะลึง, สะเทือนใจ
subordinate – someone who has less power or authority than someone else ผู้ใต้บังคับบัญชา สมุน
depressed – very sad and without hope เศร้าสลด
apprehensive – worried or frightened that something unpleasant may happen ประหวั่น, ตระหนก, หวั่นกลัว
assure – to tell something that something is true or will definitely happen ให้ความมั่นใจ, ยืนยัน
vibes - feelings อารมณ์ความรู้สึกที่มีต่อคน สิ่งของ สถาน
emanate – to come from something or somewhere ฟุ้งออกมา
goose bumps (goose pimples) – small lumps appearing on your skin with your hairs standing up straight, because you are cold, frightened, or excited อาการขนลุก
permanent secretary – a government official, not a political appointee, in charge of a ministry ปลัดกระทรวง
reservoir – a natural or artificial lake where water is stored อ่างเก็บน้ำ
rite – a traditional ceremony, especially a religious one พิธีกรรม
ward off – to prevent something unpleasant from harming or coming close to you ขจัด, ป้องกัน
location – where someone or something is ที่ตั้ง,ทำเล
forest ranger – a person who works in a forest, taking care of the trees, planting new ones, protecting wildlife, etc. คนรักษาป่า
intense – very strong แรง, เข้มข้น