MORE than 200 Thai people from across Scotland gathered to pay their respects to three Buddhist monks killed in a car crash on Christmas Eve.

The service for Abbot Phramaha Pranom Thongphaiboon, 43, head of the Thai Buddhist community in Aberdeen and his colleagues Phramaha Kriangkrai Khamsamrong, 35, and Phramaha Chai Boonma, 36, was held at Oakvale Funeral Home in Edinburgh.

A number of Thai Buddhist monks presided over the ceremony, which included the chanting of sacred texts and a viewing of the bodies.

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The monks were appreciated for being missionaries who had left their own families and culture in Thailand to serve the community in the UK.

The mourners wore black with all the women in black dresses.

Dr Rory Mackenzie, a friend of the Thai community in Scotland, said: "In Aberdeen they are absolutely shocked at having lost their abbot so early on, because it has just recently opened as a temple in Aberdeen.

"The other two monks were visiting from London, but they were well known to the Thai community in Scotland because they would come up from the English temples to help at ceremonies."

Abbot Thongphaiboon has been described as a man of few words whose deeds spoke volumes. He was considered the second most senior monk in Scotland.

Police who dealt with the accident on the A68 near Pathhead, Midlothian, attended the service yesterday, along with the driver of the vehicle.

The front seat passenger, who survived the accident, is still in hospital.

Dr Mackenzie said the police had handled the difficult situation extremely well and people were thankful for their assistance as well as that of the funeral director.

Dr Mackenzie said: "The funeral director did a very good job.

" There is a sense of real appreciation for those that helped us today."