Five family members gone in an instant

Members of the Teoh family having a meal with their Thai driver in Bangkok. The family later visited the Erawan Shrine. Only Ms Neoh Ee Ling (second from left) and her father Neoh Hock Guan (third from right) survived the attack.
Members of the Teoh family having a meal with their Thai driver in Bangkok. The family later visited the Erawan Shrine. Only Ms Neoh Ee Ling (second from left) and her father Neoh Hock Guan (third from right) survived the attack.PHOTO: SIN CHEW DAILY

BANGKOK • Tourist Neoh Hock Guan was about to pray at the Erawan Shrine on Monday evening when he dropped the candle he wanted to light.

"When I bent to pick it up, I heard the explosion," he told the Malay Mail. "The next thing I knew, none of my family members was in sight."

Mr Neoh's wife, son, son-in-law, and four-year-old granddaughter were all killed as the blast ripped through the shrine in an unprecedented attack in the Thai capital.

Of the seven family members at the shrine on Monday evening, only the 55-year-old and his pregnant daughter Ee Ling, 32, survived.

The remains of his sister-in-law Jessee Lim, a Singapore permanent resident, have not been identified.

The blast killed 20 people, including foreigners, and wounded more than 120. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

A photograph published in the Malaysian media shows Mr Neoh, a cake seller from Penang, and his family posing happily at a restaurant in Bangkok, their table laden with Thai dishes and glasses of beer. Their Thai driver is pictured making the peace sign.

Reports said the family left last Saturday on a train from Butterworth to Hua Hin and then Bangkok. They were supposed to be back home on Tuesday.

Mr Neoh's 20-year-old son Jai Jun had returned from Taiwan, where he was a university student, to join his family, The Star reported.

He died in the explosion, along with Mr Neoh's wife Lim Saw Gek, son-in-law Lee Tze Siang and granddaughter Lee Jing Xuan.

Pictured wearing pink in the family photograph, the four-year-old girl is the youngest confirmed victim of the explosion so far.

"What was supposed to be a happy holiday has turned into a nightmare for all of us," said Mr Neoh's 48-year-old brother Hock Bee.

"I pray the Thai police will capture those behind the attack. They should be punished severely."

The remains of the four family members were expected to be flown home last night.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Five family members gone in an instant'. Print Edition | Subscribe