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Phuket jellyfish researcher Dr Somchai Bussarawit, on a recent study tour with a deadly ''boxie'' in Australia.  Dr Somchai is now based in Bangkok

Alarm as Box Jellyfish Kills Tourist on Langkawi

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Today's Phuketwan Updating Report

THE DEATH of a Swedish tourist on the Malaysian island of Langkawi, apparently from a box jellyfish sting, has heightened concerns about swimmers' safety throughout the region.

Swedish media reports have focused on the death, which is likely to alarm some visitors to Malaysia and Thailand.

Carina Lofgren, 45, died a horrible death in just five seconds, according to reports from Pantai Cenang, a beach resort on Langkawi.

The Swedish Embassy in Kuaka Lumpur confirmed today to Phuketwan the circumstances of the woman's death.

Aftonbladet, one of Sweden's most popular newspapers, reported that Mrs Lofgren was enjoying a farewell swim with her husband, Ronny, when the jellyfish wrapped its tentacles around her.

The couple had been taking a holiday in Thailand and Malaysia, renting an apartment on Langkawi close to the water, with Ronny's sister and her husband.

The newspaper reported that the four went for a late-night swim, then: Carina's voice suddenly cut like a knife through the night.

Her husband was quoted as saying: ''She screamed like a stuck pig and started pulling on my legs. Then we realised that it was a jellyfish of some sort. We tried to pull the tentacles away.

''It took four or five seconds, then she sank down, lifeless.''

They carried Carina to the beach, the newspaper reported, where. Ronny's brother, who had worked as an ambulance medic, performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

''He did CPR on her, maybe for four or five minutes. Then I took over. But I knew at once that she could not be saved. She died in my arms,'' Ronny told Aftonbladet.

Paramedics arrived after 15 minutes. ''One of them said, 'Oh, jellyfish,' and shook his head. They tried to revive her, then they shook their heads again.''

A week earlier, a German woman had been stung on the beach, the Swedish tourists were told. Yet there were no warning signs, the newspaper reported.

''They are clearly afraid of losing tourists. I would not ever swim in the ocean down there again,'' the dead woman's husband is quoted as saying.

The couple have two adult children and later in February would have marked their 26th anniversary, Aftonbladet reported.

According to Swedish marine biologist Lars Henroth, the woman was probably stung by a box jellyfish, named for their cube-shaped body. Box jellyfish have the reputation for being the most toxic creatures on earth.

The Phuket Marine Biology Centre has led the way in researching all jellyfish in the region, noting that instances of contacts with box jellyfish appear to be increasing.

A young Swedish tourist died from box jellyfish stings off Koh Lanta in Krabi in April, 2008.

Resorts and lifeguards around the Andaman region now keep vinegar handy. Vinegar is the only known treatment for jellyfish stings.

While smaller varieties of box jellyfish have been discovered at a bay on Phuket's east coast, there have been no confirmed sightings at Phuket's popular west coast beaches.

Experts in Australia, where the deadly ''boxie'' has rapidly enlarged its territory, believe it is probably only a matter of time before sightings are made on the Andaman coast.

Jellyfish everywhere are increasing in number, possibly in response to overfishing and the retreat of natural predators, including turtles.

Several seminars on jellyfish were held on Phuket last year and another is scheduled for later this month.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


thks to inform us coz here in Malaysia this is unreported

Posted by JP on February 3, 2010 14:14


Don't think this was a box jelly fish because: "Then we realised that it was a jellyfish of some sort. We tried to pull the tentacles away".

Shouldn't he have been stung as well then? Strange......

Posted by Kabuki on February 3, 2010 16:26


Very sad news. While no cause for alarm above what should already be a healthy concern, I need to correct a point made in the article as there actually have been confirmed sightings of Box Jellyfish on Phuket's popular tourist west coast, with a specimen captured in Bang Tao Bay last December.

It was the smaller species but its toxicity is unknown and it has previously been associated with deaths in Sri Lanka. The point is they are not confined only to the brackish east coast.

People do survive Box Jellyfish stings Kabuki and I was stung when pulling tentacles off an unconscious person and while it was very painful I was OK within a few hours.

Posted by Andrew on February 3, 2010 17:27


Being familiar with them from the Northern Territory and having heard many stories about them possibly being here since we arrived, we always keep vinegar in the car in case of such an event....another option, although not so enticing, is to have a friend 'pee' - it does work apparently and I'd rather that than the pain!....have also heard that there is a local vine that grows here that has a purple flower that if you squeeze the leaves in your hands with water and onto the affected area, it has the same effect. There is a local ''medicine man'' in Rawai who collects a lot of the locals plants and he informed someone of this fact who then told me......

Posted by Fiona on February 4, 2010 09:22


The purple flower you mention Fiona is morning glory. When stung they spread a green paste of it on the sting only after they splashed vinegar for a while.

Science says the morning glory acts as an analgesic but does not stop the sting or venom - the locals (and indigenous Australians) think otherwise so if you don't have vinegar, gotta be better than nothing.

Posted by Andrew on February 6, 2010 13:10


I saw something resembling a smaller version of a box jellyfish on the northern beach of Koh Kai Nai last Saturday, this is at the southern end of Pang Nga bay (virtually out of the bay) where the water is crystal clear and certainly not brackish.

If it was indeed a box jelly there is no reason why these things are not hanging around the west coast already. They are very difficult to see when you are in the water, we could only see it from the boat and still difficult to see then.

Box jelly stings in Phuket are inevitable, the focus needs to be on dealing with them when they do happen.

Posted by mark on February 8, 2010 08:10


I have found two box jellyfish at Bang Tao Beach in the past year and a further six Irukandji at the Royal Phuket Marina this month.

Andrew, it's me, Tina. I can't send emails, so replying to you here. Can you send your phone number to my email please?

Posted by Tina-Phuket on February 8, 2010 11:53


I have received information that the jellyfish species I have collected at the marina are Trepidalia Cystophora and may not be harmful. The other two Box Jellyfish were collected at Bang Tao Bay.

Here is a picture of them:

Posted by Tina-Phuket on February 8, 2010 16:47


Accidents can happen anywhere. But at Cenang...where were the warning signs fo the jellyfish which may have increased after the tsunami?

It's Mahathir's pet island and he will never stand for negative publicity there. But Langkawi belongs to the state of Kedah. Now what the heck is the state government doing other then pigging and doing khalwat rounds.

You need proper brains to lead. Looks like Langkawi will eventually slip back to the pre Mahsuri era soon.

As for the paramedics, God help any Malaysian, let alone a Swede. Its possible the Swede could have been saved if rapid, active and effective CPR had taken place within five minutes.

But with our paramedics not knowing what fast or saving lives means other everything is takdir....just be prepared for the body count at our own 1Malaysia Clinics.

Posted by Jonathan on February 22, 2010 13:51


I was stung by box jellyfish in Manukan Island in Sabah on December 17th 2009. I was rushed to the hospital by motorboat. I stll have scars on my left leg and thank God I admit that it was a real close call.

Posted by vasanthathevi on February 22, 2010 19:53


Guys, Be careful on Langkawi. I was stung almost a week ago there just walking along the waterline at night. It was a vicious sting. The employees of the resort kept it quiet and looked a little scared and really did not want to talk about it but insisted I get to hospital.

I did not feel any illness after about a half hour and declined.

May I advise that you stay out of the water there and just enjoy the sandy beach and scenery!

Posted by Tiger on April 3, 2010 06:28


It is just another one out of millions chances that realistic, how to warn people if the jellyfish never call before they arrive? Why blame one incident and round it up as one reason? (odd how no locals ever seem to get killed?!). Why do you find it odd? Locals dont swim in the sea when its dark or about to get dark because without sunlight you cant see what is in the waters. Langkawi is not a shopping mall. It is a naturally island with natural environment. I personally find the topic very strange for a bunch of literate people, yet failing to interpret the basic balance of logical sense. We all know what jelly fish can do or where it is found and yet we ignore it when it seems fit...our own ignorance makes more sense when someone is to be blamed.
As for the case of the lady that died, she was an elderly lady swimming late evening with the husband in fairly deep waters. She had an allergic reaction to the jelly fish sting and failed to swim. The sting from the jelly fish was not the medical reason she drowned and it was not poisonous to kill but it was enough to cause her to faint. In actual Medical forensic = cause of death as drowning . Thu..!!!! What is the odd of this happening? ONE in a millions!
I strongly suggest those who want to come here understand that you are in Mother Natures mercy if you dont respect her.

Posted by local langkawi on July 19, 2010 21:41


Sorry Langkawi Local but lethal box jellyfish have not just arrived, they've been stinging unsuspecting people there for a long time. Unfortunately your response is not only misguided but it lacks basic facts and shows complete disrespect for the deceased victim and her husband. Clearly you either work in tourism, hospitality or health (or have connections) at Langkawi as your comments reflect the baseless rubbish and perpetuation of lies that have stemmed from many in these areas trying to protect themselves and their tourism industry - strangely their customers don't rate so highly. The truth is another thing completely. We might be a literate bunch but are you? If so then you would have read the first-hand account of the incident from the not at all elderly victim's husband - read again and please adjust your ridiculous claims of 'fairly deep waters' (wrong!), 'allergic reaction' (wrong!), 'failed to swim' (wrong!), 'not medical reason' (wrong!), 'not poisonous' (wrong!), 'faint' (wrong!), 'actual medical forensic' (wrong!)...! Good advice on not swimming at night though, I wouldn't either. But, the victim and companions were actually walking in shallow water - a bit like what local fishermen do when they're heading out on a night's fishing. Seeing 'we all know' so much about jellyfish, you would know then that box jellyfish are almost transparent and very very difficult to see in broad daylight. Speaking of illogical, on one hand you mention nature warning that visitors are at her mercy yet shut the door on jellyfish as being a possible cause of death yet offer absolutely no evidence?? In Australia the natural environment is a big seller for tourists. The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Darwin, Broome - heard of them? All of these areas have lethal box jellyfish. It took a lot of work and there were plenty of sceptics like yourself but Australia worked with the problem and found some solutions - not foolproof but sting numbers are considerably down and guests feel safe. Langkawi needs to follow the lead of its Thai neighbors and at least make an effort instead of denying the problem because every single time there is a sting it is going to hurt more than just the innocent victim!

Posted by Andrew on July 20, 2010 08:36


There is a man travelling round the world giving lectures on himself being stung by FIFTEEN BOX JELLYFISH.
After reading this article on the web
is that possible

Posted by margaret may on October 12, 2010 20:09

Editor Comment:

They could be small box jellyfish, and there are jellyfish sting survivors.

Thursday May 23, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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