Swedish tsunami victim exhumed from Thai grave

The body of a Swedish tsunami victim has been exhumed from the graveyard where she was mistakenly buried in Thailand so that her body can finally return home, officials said on Wednesday.

The body of the 49 year old woman had been mistakenly claimed by a Thai Muslim family shortly after the disaster. She was quickly buried in a cemetery in Krabi province following Muslim tradition, said Colonel Khemarin Hassiri, who heads the police victim identification unit.

The mistake was discovered on April 4 when DNA tests showed that the body, originally thought to be a Thai woman named Namsa La-ngu, was actually the Swedish woman, he said.

“This was the first case in which a victim was correctly identified after the body had been released to another family,” Khemarin told AFP.

“So we had to coordinate and explain to relatives the misunderstanding,” he told AFP.

Authorities spent months explaining the mistake to Namsa’s family, who finally agreed to allow the exhumation on October 27.

The 49 year old woman, who was killed on Phi Phi island, was the last of 501 Swedish tourists who died in the disaster to be repatriated. Her body was handed to Swedish authorities on Tuesday, Khemarin said.

Police believe Namsa’s body may be among the 1,089 corpses still awaiting identification, he added.

Officials at the Swedish embassy in Bangkok confirmed a body had been received and was in the process of being repatriated, but declined to provide any details about the victim.

At least 2,436 foreigners from 37 countries were killed in Thailand by the December 26 waves which caused devastation throughout Asia.

In Thailand, Sweden suffered the most fatalities, followed by Germany which lost 476 people.