When the bomb exploded inside the Erawan Shrine in Central Bangkok on Monday, Ms Betty Ong Chiew Huay had just lit her joss sticks. Like many other tourists, 70 year-old Ms Ong was there to pray to the famous Brahma Statue, which is worshiped by Buddhists within and from outside of Thailand.
As she turned around, the bomb blast struck her and several others in the vicinity.
“I turned my head. It was like a big blast, bright. I thought: ‘Oh the four-faced Buddha’s enlightenment!’
“I didn’t know it was a bomb blast,” she said. “The next thing I knew, people were shouting and screaming that there was a blast. The blast was so loud I couldn’t hear myself. I was off-balance. I quickly sat down at the place where I lit my joss sticks.”
Ms Betty Ong is among the 7 Singaporeans injured by the blast that claimed 20 lives. Her sister Ong Chiew Kee, 59, and brother Wesley Ong Li Meng, 53, were also wounded, although their injuries were far more severe.
Mr Ong’s leg was broken by the impact of the bomb blast – a 5mm ball bearing is still stuck in his thigh muscles and according to his doctor at Hua Chiew Hospital, is not likely to be removed due to possible side-effects.
“Now there is something inside me. They said it’s shrapnel,” Mr Ong said as he lay recovering on his hospital bed.
Mr Ong says he knew instinctively that it was a bomb blast: “Because when it hit me, my legs just went down. It was on the ground level. The impact came from below.”
“There is a certain amount of trauma,” he added, pointing at his wife Jennifer Ong-Chia, who was crying earlier. “Last night, I had a flashback because of the sight I saw, the figures, the faces. You see their faces, no bodies.
“Life is so fragile.”
After a five-hour operation, his doctor found a metal fragment had pierced his stomach and lodged itself in his colon. His sister Chiew Kee was also injured by the shrapnel and underwent an operation today.
She told reporters who spoke to her that the horrific images of Monday night reappear everytime she closes her eyes.
“My spectacles were blown off. I was lucky because my glasses are plastic. The next thing I saw was a big glare of light, very, very strong. I was half-deaf. I also realised that my face was full of oil. I touched a part of my face and I realised that I had dead flesh on my face. All blood,” she said..
A body scan showed a small piece of metal pierced through the flesh of her left temple. But it is not physical injuries alone that have left a mark on her.
“I saw a boy who was less than five years old, lying on the ground. His mother carried him, crying all the way. Dead bodies were sprawled, all the way.”
“It is inhumane to do such a thing. Very, very inhumane, very cruel. They are not human. They are not. Even a tiger, when it eats something, will lift up its head and look at his surroundings, but not these people. They are not human. They don’t have a heart. How could you kill people like that? We’re considered lucky, but we have to go through a lot.”
2 other Singaporeans are currently hospitalised at Hua Chiew Hospital and Chulalongkorn Hospital. They are Ms Rosy Feng Wei and Mr Donovan Chan.
“We should not let these things happen just like that. We should bring in more security,” Mr Ong said.
“From this experience, we feel that back home, people should be more alert,” added his sister Betty.