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Thai residents in shock after Boston blasts

A PHOTOGRAPH taken by Thai citizen Poranee Saipinthong, inset, at the Boston Marathon about an hour before bomb blasts ripped into the crowd nearby on Monday. The photo is one of many Poranee has handed over to FBI investigators.

A PHOTOGRAPH taken by Thai citizen Poranee Saipinthong, inset, at the Boston Marathon about an hour before bomb blasts ripped into the crowd nearby on Monday. The photo is one of many Poranee has handed over to FBI investigators.

A Thai former student residing in Boston, Poranee Saipinthong, said the Massachusetts state capital was normally a very peaceful place to live, and she could not recall any incident as catastrophic as the bombings during the Boston Marathon last Monday.

"As far as I can remember, it's the first time that Boston has experienced anything as terrible as this. Nobody ever dreamed that Boston would be targeted for this kind of attack," Poranee said.

Many in the large community of Thais working and studying in the city were in close touch with relatives back home, and a Facebook page had also been set up to keep Thai residents and relatives updated on the situation, Poranee said.

"We were shocked by the bombings. Now, we are constantly watching the news for updates on the investigation. We still don't know yet who is responsible for the bombings and why they were carried out. Will this lead to even higher levels of security throughout the city? We still don't know," said Poranee.

During the one-and-a-half-years that she has lived in Boston, Poranee said she had always felt safe.

"I always thought of Boston as one of the safest cities in the world - one where you can walk alone at any time, day or night," Poranee said.

However, she now admits the bombings have shaken her trust in Boston as a safe haven, and feels vulnerable to further attacks - especially as police investigations have still not identified the perpetrators.

"Now we have to be more careful when we leave our homes," Poranee said. She added that residents of Boston were sickened that the attacks targeted the marathon - a traditional event attended by a large number of children.

"It's spring time in Boston and on the day of the marathon it was especially sunny, so a lot of people were out relaxing and enjoying the warmer weather. This makes it doubly tragic as something like this happening was the last thing on people's minds," said Poranee.

The Boston Marathon takes place annually on Patriots' Day - a special Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775, according to www.nps.gov/mima/patriots-day.htm. The holiday, which is officially observed on the third Monday of April, is celebrated with parades, re-enactments and commemorative ceremonies.

Poranee had a lucky escape. She and her three friends stood for two hours in the area where the bombings later occurred - cheering the runners as they neared the finish line. They left the area only an hour before the explosions to do some shopping at a nearby supermarket.

It was only after she opened her Twitter account on her smart phone that she discovered the blasts took place at the same spot she and her friends had been, only an hour earlier.

"Shocked, we had to walk home, as the subway was closed. It was scary seeing the scenes later on CNN - the same place where we had stood only a short while earlier. We were incredibly lucky and that made it all the more poignant for us - thinking about those who had lost their lives," Poranee said.

Poranee graduated with an MBA in August last year and is now working for a Japanese firm in Boston. Before moving to Boston to study, she worked in marketing for several IT companies, including Microsoft (Thailand), Synnex and Dtac.


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