CNN journalists apologise for entering site of deadly Thai nursery attack

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CNN journalists who entered the Thai daycare where more than 20 children were killed in a massacre have issued apologies for their coverage.

On Thursday, a pair of journalists from the US news outlet entered the site where a former policeman killed 36 people, most of whom were preschoolers, during a knife and gun rampage at the Young Children’s Development Center in Uthai Sawan.

The mass killing, considered to be one of the deadliest ever carried out in the Southeast Asian nation, unfolded in a small farming community in Thailand’s northeast. The suspect in the murders, a former member of the force who was dismissed from his post last year over drug allegations, stormed the building and killed dozens before fleeing and killing his own wife and child, police said. He then killed himself.

The two journalists - reporter Anna Coren and cameraman Daniel Hodge - were fined on Sunday by authorities after they were found to have been working in the country on tourist visas, deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn told the Associated Press.

“My deepest apologies... especially the families of victims of this tragedy - we are so sorry to have caused you more pain and suffering,” said Ms Coren, according to the BBC. She, alongside Mr Hodge, were fined 5,000 baht ($133). “We know your country is going through a painful time and we never came here to cause more grief.”

The pair of journalists were initially accused of trespassing and filming without appropriate credentials but were later cleared any further wrongdoing after they entered the day care on Thursday to record footage of the carnage that had unfolded.

Thai police investigated the incident after the issue was brought to them by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand and Thai Journalists’ Association, both of whom issued statements that criticised the US news crew for “a serious breach of journalistic ethics in crime reporting”.

“Would one of their crews have behaved in the same way at a serious crime scene in the United States?” the statement asked.

A reporter shared a since-viral image of two of the crew members leaving the scene where 36 people lost their lives, which shows one member climbing over the low wall and fence around the compound, over police tape, and the other already on the other side.

CNN International’s executive vice president and general manager Mike McCarthy also issued an apology on behalf of the news outlet, beginning by saying that his reporters sought permission to enter the building but the team “now understands that these officials were not authorized to grant this permission,” and added that it was “never their intention to contravene any rules.”

“We deeply regret any distress or offense our report may have caused, and for any inconvenience to the police at such a distressing time for the country,” he said in the statement, which was tweeted by CNN.

The news outlet has pulled the video footage from their broadcasts and removed record of it from their website, CNN said.

With files from the Associated Press