River Kwai Bridge Festival opens

The light and sound show wows spectators during the River Kwai Bridge Festival that runs until Dec 2. (Photo by Piyarat Chongcharoen)

KANCHANABURI: The annual River Kwai Bridge Festival and the Red Cross Fair was opened on Saturday and will run until Dec 2.

The opening ceremony was held at 7pm on Saturday at the bridge across the Kwai river in Muang district.It was chaired by governor Jirakiat Phumsawat and his wife Rachaya, chairwoman of the Kanchanaburi Red Cross.

The River Kwai Bridge Festival has been held annually in late November since 1980. The highlight of the festival is the light and sound presentation that recounts the history of the bridge.

The festival also includes a big Red Cross fair at the bridge.

The River Kwai Bridge formed part of the so-called Death Railway, built by Japan in 1943 to support its forces in Burma during World War II. The railway originally stretched 415 kilometres from Ban Pong in Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Burma.

The rail line was closed in 1947, but the section between Nong Pla Duk and Nam Tok was reopened ten years later.

Between 180,000 and 250,000 Southeast Asian civilian labourers and about 61,000 Allied prisoners of war were subjected to forced labour during its construction. About 90,000 civilian labourers and more than 12,000 Allied prisoners died during the time.