On July 19 a Huey helicopter on a mission from a Thai special warfare camp crashed in the mountains of a national forest near the border of Burma, killing all 5 on board. A Black Hawk helicopter with a crew of 9 crashed 3 days later on a search and rescue mission for the first chopper. Yesterday a third chopper (twin engine Huey) was returning to the site for a second load of the deceased and it crashed, killing 3 of the 4 on board. The Thai military grounded all it’s Hueys pending investigation.
The causes have been variously attributed to weather, pilot error and maintenance. Some say it’s because of the supernatural:
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.
When I told my regular masseur of my Isaan trip plans she warned me about going to a place near one of my destinations because ‘bad spirits there’. I don’t know enough Thais to say firsthand how widespread is the fear of / respect for the supernatural. I have seen many references to such beliefs. The article says of an Army Lt. Colonel attached to the special warfare camp: “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.”