Invasion of the Buddhist Body Snatchers Hits Bangkok

By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2009 2:40 AM CDT
Cars move slowly during rush hour in Bangkok, Thailand, where a motorist is killed every 36 minutes.    (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – In the chaotic traffic of Bangkok, the first to arrive on the scene of an accident is often not an ambulance but a Toyota pickup packed with volunteers in blue jumpsuits. These are the controversial workers of the Por Tek Tung Foundation, who haul the injured to hospitals and the dead to morgues, all in the hopes of earning Buddhist brownie points, reports the Utne Reader.

Por Tek Tung fills a crucial role in the Thai capital, where a motorist is killed every 36 minutes and public emergency services are lacking. But the Buddhist "body snatchers" have their dark side: one accident victim died while Por Tek Tung brawled with EMTs over the right to transport him, and the group is dogged by rumors of corpses held for ransom or arriving at the morgue stripped of valuables.