Police report a homeless man set fire to the enormous monument near Saeng Chan beach in Rayong, Thailand, on Saturday. The massive monument depicts Nang Phisuea Samudra, a sea ogress and the primary character in Sunthorn Phu’s famed epic poem Phra Aphai Mani.
According to authorities, the homeless man set fire to Rayong’s iconic giant statue on Saturday afternoon, and local people now worry for their safety as a result of the damage to the edifice.
When police arrived on the scene of the fire on Saeng Chan beach, they saw locals working quickly to extinguish flames that rose as high as three meters, according to witnesses. It apparently took just over 10 minutes to put out the fire.
Authorities examined the statue’s damage and discovered that its torso had been burned and the figure’s upper garment had been damaged. Smaller statues of other mythical beings, which had been put in tribute around the main sculpture, had also been damaged.
Ratana Deebang, 52, a local seller, said she noticed a vagrant circle the monument before the fire broke out and called on others nearby to help put it out.
After questioning witnesses, police seized a 35-year-old man known only as Ming, who appeared to be mentally unstable. He was taken from the area, and medical attention was sought.
Locals are concerned that the occurrence may bring bad luck to the neighborhood because the statue is considered sacred. Some people were spotted pooling their resources to replace the charred clothing.
The monument depicts Nang Phisuea Samudra, a sea ogress and the major character in the epic poem Phra Aphai Mani by Rattanakosin Dynasty bard Sunthorn Phu (1786-1855).
The statue was built to serve as a tourist attraction, but it became famous after several people claimed to have found love after praying to it. Locals say the spot is especially packed on the day before national lottery draws.