Thai elite turn out for Vichai’s funeral

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Deputy prime minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, center, participates in the Buddhist funeral rituals of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in Bangkok, Saturday, Nov. 3. (King Power via AP)
Deputy prime minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, center, participates in the Buddhist funeral rituals of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in Bangkok, Saturday, Nov. 3. (King Power via AP)

Bangkok (AP) — An elaborate funeral began Saturday for Thai billionaire and Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who died last week when his helicopter crashed in a parking lot next to the English Premier League club’s stadium.

The royally sponsored funeral was being held at a Bangkok temple and its guests included top government officials, businessmen and other public figures. The first ceremony began Saturday, with other ceremonies scheduled through Nov. 9.

“It’s a very difficult time for his family and I’m here to show support,” said Kiattisak Senamuang, a former Thai national soccer team coach and player who noted that Vichai was always supportive of soccer projects in Thailand. “May Vichai rest in peace.”

The grounds of Wat Thepsirin were guarded by scores of security officers. White sheets were lowered to block outsiders and media from viewing the proceedings. However, the chanting of monks, amplified by loud speakers, could be heard resonating around the temple’s grounds.

Leicester City’s players planned to travel to Bangkok to attend Vichai’s funeral after their match with Cardiff City on Saturday.