News Guardian – February 24, 2005
A CULLERCOATS funeral director has returned from tsunami hit Thailand. Jonathan Ryland was part of an international aid team based in Phuket.
He was one of more than 100 people from over 20 countries who were deployed to help in relief and recovery operations.
Jonathan, of R J Ryland Funeral Services, spent three weeks in the Thai resort, along with a variety of professionals, including forensic scientists, embalmers, mortuary technicians, bereavement counsellors, logistics and management personnel, as well as communications specialists.
He said the area had been utterly devastated by the force of the tsunami and he and his colleagues had to work in extremely difficult geographical conditions.
In Thailand with the Kenyon International Emergency Services, he and fellow members performed a number of activities, including collecting data for disaster victim identification and building and managing a repatriation centre to help return victims to their families.
This meant providing portable mortuaries and mortuary support to the nations that lost citizens in the tsunami.
The first Kenyon team members arrived in Phuket on December 28 and they expect to have a presence in Thailand for several months yet.