The family of an Israeli boy who died over the weekend after being stung by a venomous box jellyfish at a beach in Thailand has decided to cremate the nine-year-old’s body in a ceremony at Ko Pha-ngan island.
Li-Yam Levy’s family had been in touch with the Religious Affairs Ministry about bringing their son’s body back to Israel for burial, but ultimately decided to perform an alternative ceremony on the island where they live and where the incident took place on Saturday.
A statement from the family said that Li-Yam had been playing on the beach on Saturday evening with four other children. His father heard him call for help and rushed to the scene, where the boy was writhing in pain from the sting. The father, Liran, tried to wash the area but Li-Yam lost consciousness shortly thereafter.
He was rushed to hospital where doctors performed resuscitation attempts for 40 minutes before Li-Yam was pronounced dead.
The family invited the entire island, which includes a small Israeli community, to Li-Yam’s cremation ceremony on Wednesday, which will be held at a monastery. The boy’s ashes “will be returned to the sea he so loved and was even named after,” the statement said (Li-Yam is loosely translated from Hebrew as “my sea”).
The Levy’s had been living in Ko Pha-ngan for several years. Li-Yam’s mother is a Philippine national.
Thailand’s Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa issued a statement offering his condolences to Li-Yam’s family and ordering the relevant authorities to investigate the incident and to immediately make first aid equipment for such injuries accessible at major tourist areas and other areas where toxic jellyfish are regularly found.
“This is a horrible story,” an Israeli who has lived on the island for five years told the Walla news website.
The man, identified in the report only by the Hebrew letter “Nun,” said that the danger of box jellyfish is well-known and that Thai beaches carry warning signs.
In addition, on the beach where the deadly sting happened, there is a netted-off area in the water that is intended to provide a safe space for bathers. However, many ignore it as it is inconvenient to use and not located at the popular part of the beach.
According to Nun, who was not there when the incident happened, the boy had entered the water outside of the gated area.
Nun said that several Israeli families had gathered on the beach as was their custom every Saturday, along with many others.
Box jellyfish are among the most venomous creatures in the world, and some can kill untreated adult victims in minutes. Their sting is even more dangerous for children.