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Tadsana and Joshua Devine in a ''selfie'' on board, hours  before he vanished

Phuket Alcohol Dive Ban Plan

Thursday, April 16, 2015
PHUKET: Diving industry stakeholders on Phuket are to look at whether drinking alcohol should be banned following the disappearance of an American diver who was said to be ''very drunk'' at the time.

Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong also said today that an action group would examine whether dive boats should be restricted to early morning departures, not late at night when drinking might be encouraged.

Pattaya-based Mermaids Dive Centre also issued a statement today about the disappearance of American diver Joshua Devine, 36, expressing hope that he will soon be reunited with friends and family.

The statement spells out the timetable of what took place on the hired liveaboard dive boat last weekend off Phuket and the reaction of those involved.

This afternoon, US embassy vice consul Justin T. Walls met behind closed doors at Phuket Provincial Hall with Governor Nisit and other leading officials, including senior police and the Marine Office 5 chief.

Unusually, there was no opportunity after the session for Phuket reporters to talk to the governor or Mr Walls.

US outlets are reporting that Mr Devine's mother and sister are flying to Phuket.

His wife, Tadsana, who was on the boat at the time Mr Devine disappeared and has criticised some aspects of the search as being more like ''sight-seeing,'' was not at today's meeting.

Before the meeting with the US vice consul, Governor Nisit told a Phuketwan journalist that daily searches will continue until Mr Devine is found.

A Marine Police vessel searched again today and was joined for about two hours by a Royal Thai Navy helicopter. Local officials and fishing networks along the Andaman coast have been told to look out for Mr Devine.

The statement posted at Mermaids Dive Centre on Facebook reads as follows:

''Mermaids Dive Center regrets to announce a passenger went missing on 11 April 2015 at approximately 5 AM while traveling on a vessel that had departed Phuket for the Similan Islands the night before. The vessel is a hired liveaboard dive boat that Mermaids Dive Center contracted, as the Similan Islands is not a regularly scheduled dive location. Although many customers on the vessel were booked through Mermaids Dive Center, some customers booked directly with the liveaboard company. The incident did not occur during a scheduled dive.

''Search and rescue operations remain underway, and Mermaids Dive Center sincerely hopes that the missing passenger will soon be reunited with his friends and family. Mermaids Dive Center has reached out to the missing passenger's family, and is deeply concerned with the outcome of the search for the missing passenger, the wellbeing of the missing passenger's family, and everyone affected by this unfortunate event. Mermaids Dive Center continues to work closely with all regulatory bodies involved in the investigation.

''Upon learning that the passenger was missing, members of the dive trip immediately searched the vessel, and failing to locate the missing passenger, the vessel backtracked to the area the missing passenger was last seen. The dive boat then conducted an ocean search for the missing passenger in a logical, planned manner using large spotlights while many members of the dive trip assisted with torches. At the same time the boat captain started initiating radio contact with the Royal Thai Navy, Royal Thai Police, rescue services, as well as other vessels in the area. The location was not within cellular coverage.

''Rescue services personnel arrived at the dive boat at approximately 10 AM after successful contact by the dive boat at approximately 6:30 AM. The dive boat continued searching the area until the Royal Thai Police arrived at approximately 1:30 PM. The Royal Thai Police took control of the incident after initial interviews with the boat crew and some passengers were completed. The missing passenger's spouse left the dive boat with the Royal Thai Police and the dive boat departed from the search area at approximately 3 PM. At approximately 10:30 AM Mermaids Dive Center contacted the US Embassy to report the incident and provided all available information.

''As the incident is currently under investigation, Mermaids Dive Center will be unable to offer further comments at this time. Mermaids Dive Center will respect all comments posted in response to this announcement. Emails may be sent to dive@mermaidsdivecenter.com.''

Mrs Devine, originally from the Pattaya region, has said her husband frequently visited Thailand to dive and trained up to instructor level at Mermaids, where he knew some of the staff well.

The couple lived in Kuwait, where Mr Devine, an IT contractor, worked with the US military.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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As a Padi Master Scuba diver myself, the rule on live aboard is: You not dive after drinking! If you have a drink, you are out that day.

Posted by Kurt on April 16, 2015 18:39

Editor Comment:

There seems little point, then in allowing alcohol on board.

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At least being an American he stands a chance of being found. Would this much time and money be spent finding a Laos, Burmese etc under the same circumstances?

Posted by Verbally Abused By Ed on April 16, 2015 19:03

Editor Comment:

There is little likelihood of the disappearance of a fisherman over the side being reported in the same way. Certainly, a missing fishing boat would gain considerable attention. The whole point is, grotesque and strangely named contributor, that provision of the right level of SAR for tourists, who actually pay to be here, would help residents and migrant fishermen, too. Nationality actually has nothing to do with it. The money, grotesque and strangely named contributor, it's all about the money. Phuket should spend more because the whole world has spent big on tourism to Phuket.

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Somebody might like a drink after diving, so why make new restrictions for one tragic avoidable event. Dozens of inexperienced snorkelers die every year, wouldn't some kind of regulations, be more suitable here, or has regulations something with the nationality of business owners to do?

Posted by Sherlock on April 16, 2015 19:18

Editor Comment:

Drinking and sailing is considered to be unwise and with diving, the mix seems even less sensible. I would suggest, Sherlock, that people who really love diving don't need a drink. There is no comparison between a diving death and a snorkelling death. Most of them, though, are preventable.

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That is part of my point how much reporting would be done if a Laos was lost even if he was a Tourist. We do get tourists from Asia too abusing Ed. Example UK/US etc would spend the same time and money no matter where the person came from and the reporting would be the same. Do you think the American Embassy influenced for the better to upgrade the search?

Posted by Grotesque and strangely named contributor on April 16, 2015 19:56

Editor Comment:

The reporting would be the same from PW. We cover Tourism news, Grotesque and strangely named contributor, and that includes ''accidental tourist'' boatpeople from Bangladesh and Burma too. If embassies get involved, authorities usually listen. The story is getting quite substantial coverage in the US. But we have no way of knowing what influences local authorities. I don't know what your point is, and the problem is, I don't think you do either.

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As a trained PADI diving instructor, and a non drinker, I see absolutely no reason at all why alcohol should not be allowed on dive boats; a lot of people enjoy a beer in the evening AFTER they have finished diving for the day.

The key here is moderation, it's not safe anywhere in the world to get completely drunk (not suggesting that was the cause here), and that is the same if you are on a dive boat. Banning all alcohol on boats due to this awful incident would be the same as banning all cars from the whole of Thailand because of one fatal car crash. Total over - reaction. Thousands of people dive off liveaboards without incident every year.

Reading some of the comments on this story it's quite clear some people have no ideas of diving or liveaboards; ill informed comments will not help find this gentleman.

Posted by Discover Thainess on April 16, 2015 23:02

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"There seems little point, then in allowing alcohol on board."
" I would suggest, Sherlock, that people who really love diving don't need a drink."

Ridiculous comments from the editor. Who are you to tell what a diver needs? It's not to hard to imagine than when all the day's dives are done, drinking alcohol is perfectly acceptable and appreciated.

Posted by John on April 17, 2015 00:48

Editor Comment:

It may be seen as a necessity among people for whom alcohol is a habit, John, but you seem to forget that alcohol is a drug that does far more harm than good. The same thing would have been said about smoking at one time. Can't live without it, eh? Let's hope today's children grow up wiser.

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hahaha... sorry, but the strange contributor is funny. As this webiste and its top journalists are judicially and financially harassed by some elements of the Thai military because they wrote in length on muslim boat people.

Btw. on their way from North Africa to Italy on one trafficker boat muslim "asylum" seeker throw 12 fellow refugees over board because they were christians. Guess here alcohol was not the problem.

Posted by Lena on April 17, 2015 01:07

Editor Comment:

What our friend seems to have yet to discover is that making all judgements on the basis of race, religion or nationality is bad. We are all in this boat together.

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as usual the editor trying to force his opinion onto everyone else.

Posted by John M on April 17, 2015 09:12

Editor Comment:

A bit hard to do that, John, unless you are a very weak and insipid kind of person. Perhaps you drink too much?

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It is a good joke from Phuket Governor to prohibited alcohol on tour boats as one foreign-owned company, in Chalong Bay, is offering evening parties for 70 party goers.
QUOTED: ...Friday 12th April: Today the ...... is holding a ''Love Boat Party'' onboard Phuket's Party Boat. There is sure to be plenty of beautiful girls and flowing liquor as the party takes off.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on April 17, 2015 12:53

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well we know how well prohibition worked people who don't learn from history are deemed to repeat the same mistakes, black marketeering higher prices poor quality and all driven underground so it cant be monitored all breeding corruption on Phuket heaven forbid perish the thought wont happen a booze ban if anything divers are highly responsible with alcohol as there are many fudge factors with the bends not fully understood the victim concerned was a exception indeed that drink altered his personality and mental balance apparently ok its up to the diving community cant see it happening or lasting.

Posted by slickmelb on April 20, 2015 20:04


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