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The jet-ski is examined by Winai ''JJ'' Naiman (in yellow) and a jet-ski manager

Two Tourists Killed as Phuket Jet-Ski Hits Catamaran

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
UPDATE: Photo Album Above

The tourists have been named as Zhao Qiang and his wife Fang Chu, both aged 28.

Original Report

TWO tourists holidaying on Phuket, a man and a woman, were killed when their jet-ski slammed into a catamaran off Patong beach today.

The deaths were confirmed by Lieutenant Colonel Nikorn Chootong, of Kathu Police Station, which oversees Patong.

It is believed the jet-ski riders, a couple both aged 28 and from China, tried to go under the central portion of the catamaran, possibly mistaking the catamaran for a single-hulled vessel.

The death crash occurred at the southern end of the beach, after the couple rented the jet-ski from an operator on the beach near the Patong Beach Hotel.

Phuketwan has confirmed that the couple were part of a group of 11 from China that arrived on November 28 and was due to visit He Island for snorkelling today.

However, the woman said she was feeling sick and decided to stay in their hotel, Phuketwan has been told. Her husband stayed with her.

The tour group leader said: ''I was just so surprised to hear they had been killed. She told me in the morning she was feeling too sick to go snorkelling.''

The group had been due to fly to Bangkok tomorrow to spend one night in the Thai capital before flying home to China. Phuketwan has the names of the young couple, but will not publish them until the families have been notified.

Onlookers said that while the man drove the jet-ski from the beach, the woman was seen in the driver's position as the jet-ski crashed into the catamaran.

Crash damage to the jet-ski's superstructure was severe. Police believe the couple were killed by the impact. The jet-ski was heading out to sea when it ploughed into the catamaran, 150 metres out to sea.

A large cruise liner was at anchor nearby, with passengers being ferried to the pier at the south end of Patong beach.

A masseuse working at the Amari Coral Beach Phuket, on Patong's southern headland, said she saw the crash, and she called police.

The owner of the catamaran, an expat, also telephoned, the vice president of the Patong Jet-ski Association, Nucha Petchvimol, told Phuketwan.

He said the couple were from China and had been staying at the Baan Karonburi Resort, in Karon, another tourist beachfront destination south of Patong.

The couple had paid 1500 baht to ride the jet-ski for 30 minutes, Khun Nucha said.

''When they took off, the husband was riding, and his wife was the passenger,'' Khun Nucha said. ''There was a little rain while they were jet-skiing.

''When we heard from the jet-ski owner that there had been a crash, our people went straight out and found the woman had the starter key in her hand.''

A second police officer told Phuketwan the bodies of the dead couple have been taken to Patong Hospital.

The deaths are likely to bring to a head the issue of jet-skis being used without controls on Patong and other Phuket beaches.

Phuket Police Commander Major General Pekad Tantipong was at the beach where he took charge of the investigation. He was fully briefed and went to Patong Hospital to examine the bodies.

Major General Pekad has told police that in an effort to improve the speed of notification of deaths or arrests involving expats, all serious incidents have to be reported to his office.

Operators of jet-skis in Patong continue to be accused of scams based on ''damage'' to jet-skis, although an insurance scheme introduced last year was designed to obliterate the fraud.

Safety experts have long been urging the use of buoys to partition off a segment of Patong beach for the safety of swimmers, who are constantly endangered by jet-skis and speedboats towing parasailers.

Safety experts have also been urging lessons for jet-ski riders. Under Thai law, jet-skis are categorised as a vessel requiring a certificate to operate.

The use of jet-skis on Patong and other Phuket beaches has grown despite an edict from a Governor almost seven years ago that the jet-skis be phased out over seven years. That time limit expires in March.

One Singaporean tourist was killed earlier this year when his jet-ski was hit by another jet-ski ridden by a friend, and a pair of Australian tourists confessed to deliberately crashing jet-skis off Patong earlier this week.

Well-known jet-ski operator Winai ''JJ'' Naiman was not the manager of the jet-ski involved in the crash, but he went with the jet-ski manager to inspect the vehicle at Kathu Police Station.

An insurance assessor was on the spot soon after. Damage is believed to be about 200,000 baht a new jet-ski costs 300,000 baht or more - but the insurance payout ceiling is 50,000 baht.

A death coverage is part of the policy, with a maximum payout of 50,000 baht a death.
Patong Tourists 'Deliberately Crashed' Jet-Skis
Latest A pair of Australian tourists admitted deliberately crashing two jet skis but were not prepared to pay the 250,000 baht asking price for repairs. They settled on 80,000 baht.
Patong Tourists 'Deliberately Crashed' Jet-Skis

Riled Phuket Tourist Pays Extra Jet-Ski Charge
UPDATE A Phuketwan journalist in Patong encounters JJ Naiman engaged in a mediation debate with a Russian tourist at Kathu Police Station. After a lengthy mediation, the tourist pays up.
Riled Phuket Tourist Pays Extra Jet-Ski Charge

Fresh Rip-Off Claim in Phuket Jet-Ski Turmoil
Latest A tourist from South Africa claims to have paid an extra 69,000 baht to a jet ski operator at Patong despite having an insurance policy covering damage.
Fresh Rip-Off Claim in Phuket Jet-Ski Turmoil

Phuket Jet-Ski Man 'Free, Back in Singapore'
Latest A Singapore tourist who had surrendered his passport to police after a fatal jet ski collision is back home, says a Singapore newspaper.
Phuket Jet-Ski Man 'Free, Back in Singapore'

Phuket Jet-Ski Disaster: Coma Victim Flying Home
Latest A young tourist is in a coma and expected to suffer permanent brain damage after a jet ski collision. His friends say Phuket beach emergency procedures need to be improved.
Phuket Jet-Ski Disaster: Coma Victim Flying Home

Phuket Jet-Ski Operators Make 109 Accident Claims
UPDATE Some jet-ski operators are avoiding insurance while others are not keeping up their payments, a meeting at Provincial Hall hears. More than 400,000 baht has been paid in claims.
Phuket Jet-Ski Operators Make 109 Accident Claims

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Not much good seems to come from the jet skis. Even in Pattaya now.

Posted by john s on December 1, 2010 12:22

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A terrible tragedy which indeed highlights the risks of riding a high-powered water motorcycle (Jet ski) with no prior instruction.
The authorities have left themselves culpable by not enforcing a law that is on the statute.
As an aside, I was pleasantly surprised to see an area in Kata, clearly set out with buoys, to separate swimmers from jet-ski, banana boat and parasailors.

Posted by Mr Man on December 1, 2010 12:58

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How horribly sad! How many deaths will it take before jet-skis are banned, or at least put under some serious control, at Phuket's beaches? I'm getting sick and tired of reading stories like this. What a waste.

Posted by Lana on December 1, 2010 13:20

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I'm not complaining, but only when persons of very high social or financial standing are killed, will anything be done to rid the island of these machines as toys.
R I P good tourists.

Posted by Robin on December 1, 2010 14:22

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RIP for these two, for the jet-skis, it will be a never ending issue.
Buoys at Kata are set by the hotels and not by the municipality. Not sure if this changed since the last 10 years.

Posted by ex xpat on December 1, 2010 14:29

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@Lana: How many deaths? Until the money they make renting is less than the money Phuket loses from bad publicity.

It's ALL about the money.

Posted by Mike Boyd on December 1, 2010 14:38

Editor Comment:

Not any more it's not. Even the authorities don't share your cynicism.

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For the safety and tranquility of everyone, please ban the jet skis.

Posted by Jean-Paul Patrick on December 1, 2010 14:51

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One more negative jet ski scam for Phuket. Stop the madness! Where I come from jet skis are banned, not allowed at all. Do the same here in Thailand, and perhaps the press outside Thailand and in Europe can write positive things, not as today, 80 percent negative, red skirts, yellowshirts, Jet-ski, Tuk-Tuk scam from a lovely country, the tourists look for other countries now, Burma, Cambodia and Viet Nam.

Stop the madness NOW!

Posted by Rune on December 1, 2010 15:42

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Ed, you don't really think that the authorities are doing what little they ARE doing out of their love for fellow human beings, do you?

It's all about the money. When Phuket's reputation gets tarnished enough, and it's not quite there yet, people will stop coming, and the 'authorities' will be making less money - they may even be posted to Nakhon Nowhere.

People still come because the lack of safety, lack of care, and horrendous corruption still haven't reached the main stream media - and holiday companies aren't going to put that on their web site, are they?

Me cynical? "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

Posted by Mike Boyd on December 1, 2010 16:45

Editor Comment:

I don't think the decision-makers actually get a cut from the jet-ski scams, so that's where your argument falls apart. The jet-skis have lasted because of the usual excessive tolerance, and concern about hurtling people out of their occupations. But I would reckon the international community will take these two deaths as the final straw. Two young people who were given no education about how to ride a jet-ski safely. Unforgivable.

Nice quote.

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"I don't think the decision-makers actually get a cut from the jet-ski scams, so that's where your argument falls apart."

How short sighted... (moderated)

Posted by LivinLOS on December 1, 2010 18:36

Editor Comment:

A decision about whether or not the jet-skis will continue to operate rests with the governor.

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Law enforcement is the main problem in all areas of our mess.

Scenario:
As per Thai law, people earning below 15,000 don't need to pay tax.
Jet Ski operators obviously earn more than 15,000 per month and still don't pay any "OFFICIAL" tax nor do most have a official registers company.

Want to put them out of business? Prosecute them!

Posted by Mr. K on December 1, 2010 18:59

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"An insurance assessor was on the spot soon after. Damage is believed to be about 200,000 baht a new jet-ski costs 300,000 baht or more - but the insurance payout ceiling is 50,000 baht.
A death coverage is part of the policy, with a maximum payout of 50,000 baht a death."

So - 50,000 baht for the jet ski equates with the loss of a human life? Tragic.
Two lives lost here needlessly, the unfortunate victims unknowingly being cajoled into breaking a law that the relevant authorities will not enforce.

A good lawyer (for the victims) should make hay with this and bring an end to jet-skis once and for all.

Posted by Pete on December 1, 2010 19:06

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How long is it going to take the authorities to straighten out this mess of jet skis.

Bottom line is they are illegal according to the law unless driven by a suitably licensed captain. Simply enforce the law, not that difficult. same as enforcing traffic violations, simple, end of story.

Sorry I forgot the vested interest of ......?

Anyway according to a past governor's mandate there will be no more as from March next year. HOORAY !!!
We all await the outcome, but don't hold your breath.

Posted by innocent bystander on December 1, 2010 23:03

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"How short sighted... (moderated)"

Is it possible to have some kind of established rules to posting ?? My comments named no names, they simply connected the dots that everyone knows. So if your going to edit peoples postings is some kind of rules to this process not at least fair ??

Otherwise the 'mods' view is left alone.

Posted by LivinLOS on December 2, 2010 08:48

Editor Comment:

Postings are edited to abide by the laws of Thailand. It's easy for commenters to ''connect the dots,'' even if those dots are based on rumor and myth. It is not so easy for us to defend a court action based on your dots. Use your real name, produce real evidence. That would be fair.

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To the Editor

Correct me if I'm wrong but under Thai law you can be held responsible for the comments others post and you publish here ?

I think this is how a couple of Thai online discussion board operators got into legal difficulties recently.

I think this might be something most readers don't realize.

Posted by Chris on December 2, 2010 09:27

Editor Comment:

Yes, we're an open site that doesn't have the advantage of being members-only. Anonymous posters often don't take account of the dangers. And some of them are provocateurs and gossips. We set out to encourage those who have real information to add, based on real experience.

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This is a terrible death, true. But how many of you would ride a jet ski when you have no experience at all with the kind of weather we've had recently ? What I mean is, all these people put their lives in danger, even though they were warned. We have to consider this side as well.

Posted by Nadege on December 2, 2010 10:09

Editor Comment:

Were they warned?
This is not the first time this issue has been raised in relation to a jet-ski death. The young group of Singaporean friends whose holiday ended in a death earlier this year told Phuketwan that they were given no indication of the dangers.

If it rains, perhaps jet-skis should stay on the beach. But the issue now is whether there should be any jet-skis at all, and if they are permitted to continue, how the safety of tourists can be guaranteed.

With three deaths so far this year on Phuket alone, the international community will be looking for serious action.

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It's a tragedy that two more people had lost their lives.
But just banishing the Jetskis from the beaches is in my opinion also no perfect solution.
My 20 years experience in the Jetski business in europe taught me this:
From a high class holiday destiny the tourists expect things like Jetskis.
But it should be the responsibility of the operators or of the authorities to inform the customers about Jestkis before they let them out alone to the sea.
The most important thing is here to handle the customers just one sheet of paper where all instructions and safety rules are in and this in their mother language!!!!
I did this in Spain very successfully 20 years ago. My costumer, who bought from me in the early 90s had 10 Jestkis for a renting service in Spain, lost 3 of the Jetskis in only one week, because of collisions. Nobody had to die, but the operator was shocked.
Then he asked me what to do.
I constructed for him on one site a manual for his drivers in german and english and he made the spanish translation. More languages was followed and in the end when every new customer got the instructions before they was alone with this sort of high speed boat, no more heavy accidents happened in the next two years.
I could construct such a paper in only one day in perfect german and not so perfect english and then it could be translated to all other languages by the local consulates or embassies. This could help a lot to protect the tourists from killing themselves.
Just one small thing that everybody will understand what is so special by using a Jetski.
Without "Step on it", steering is not possible anymore!!!!!
This is just the most important rule.
And 10 mores are necessary to go for a safe turn.
Accidents always will happen, but no more accidents because the drivers was not informed about the safe control of this high speed boat.

Posted by happychris on December 2, 2010 11:13

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The authorities have to try to balance several aspects of this problem.

First of all a lot of people make their income from this business. It is debatable if any of that revenue is shared with the authorities, we don't know for sure.

Secondly it is often overlooked that a lot of tourists actually WANT to use a jet-ski. What they don't know though is that it's in fact illegal.

Undeniably there have been scams and it seems they have not ended. Equally it can't be denied the jet-skis pose a grave danger to swimmers and to those who rent them without proper experience.

No matter what the authorities decide to do, there will always be a group of people not happy with it.

However in complicated situations like this, the law should be applied to solve it. Thai law requires a Captain's license to operate a jet-ski. I doubt any tourists have that.

Thus renting out jet-skis to anyone without one in Thailand is illegal.

Apply and obey the law. If you disagree with the law, campaign to amend it but do not go about to break it.

Posted by Chris on December 2, 2010 11:45

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We anchored off Kata Beach earlier this year and two jet skis collided near to our yacht, they were playing chicken! What idiots, lucky they were not hurt. As soon as you drop anchor at a Thailand Beach, if there are jet skis in the vicinity they make a beeline for your yacht roaring past, showing off and generally having no respect that we are in our homes and no idea of the consequences of hitting us. We have been anchored in Nai Harn bay where there are no jetskis from that beach, a beautiful and peacful bay it is. A group of jetskis came around from Kata Beach and roared in and out of approximately 50 yachts anchored there. Everyone came out on deck and told them to bugger off! Ban jetskis to a designated area with speed controls so yachties and swimmers can be safe.

Posted by Patrice Gill SY Finally on December 6, 2010 20:57

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I hate jet skis as much as the next person on here, but i don't see how all the blame is on the jet ski owners, when these people were silly enough to drive that close to a catamaran and crash into it. They must have been behaving recklessly and no one needs to be warned about not smashing into a boat.

Posted by sailorgirl on December 20, 2010 20:48

Editor Comment:

sailorgirl, The jet-ski operators are certainly not being blamed for these deaths, or the death of another tourist in a collision earlier in the year. But the cases do highlight the dangers of jet-skis in the hands of unskilled riders. And questions are now being asked about the safety of swimmers who share the same waters. How jet-skis form part of a ''green'' tourism future is another issue.


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