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New Russian-language signs failed to work at Karon

'Drunk' Russian Drowns: Phuket Toll Grows, More Tragedies Likely

Sunday, July 31, 2011
Phuketwan News Analysis

PHUKET: A Russian tourist drowned at Phuket's Karon beach this afternoon, plunging the local council, the lifeguard service and the Phuket tourism industry further into crisis.

It was the third death by drowning of a tourist this month at Karon beach, and the thirteenth at the beach in the 16 months since accurate records have been kept.

The Russian man, named as Sergey Pronichev, 38, was told not to go into the water but ignored the red flags and paid with his life.

Two lifeguards plucked him from the surf not far from the Karon roundabout about 4.10pm and administered cpr, a lifeguard spokesperson said, but Mr Pronichev died at Patong Hospital, where his body now lies.

It is being alleged that Mr Pronichev had been drinking, a claim that will only provoke more arguments about whether he was primarily responsible for his own death.

The point now is that with so many drowning deaths continuing to occur at Karon especially, the entire Phuket tourism industry needs to become involved in a solution that prevents these needless drownings.

If all Phuket resorts warned guests with the same care and attention that is paid to marketing Phuket as a year-round beach holiday destination, more unnecessary deaths could be avoided.

Good resorts are recognising their responsibility. Others are not. The lifeguard service is improving, but once swimmers enter the water, it's too late.

Russian signage on the beach has made no difference: people who have paid good money for a beach holiday are intent on taking it, even if as today, red ''no swim'' flags are flying.

There are no easy answers. Recognition that it is a Phuket community issue and that there are flaws in the approach of marketing Phuket year-round, without appropriate warnings, would be a step forward.

Until then, the toll will continue to mount. This month it has been an Australian, a Chinese and a Russian, all at Karon beach.

Next month? Will a entire family of tourists be carried out and drown, mother, father, two or three children?

That's what it might take for the managements at all Phuket resorts to begin paying attention to the need for everyone to seek a solution.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


How many hotels are in Phuket? Hundreds if not thousands. How many airlines fly into Phuket? A few, maybe 40?

Perhaps the head of tourism could enlist their help in warning passengers of the dangers...

Posted by Zor on July 31, 2011 20:44


I think the hotels must now start warning persons about the dangers of swimming at this time of the year.
They are the ones that will loose all their customers, but it is the customers who are loosing their lives.
Maybe the hotels must start getting up-front payment for booked holidays, just in case their guest changes their name from Bud Budinovski to plain BOB.
This is a very serious matter and needs to dealt with at a very high level.

Posted by Dun on July 31, 2011 21:54


Nobody can be held responsible for the actions of a drunken Russian, but here's an idea put signs in the immigration arrivals hall in what seems to be the main victims of these tragedies languages Russian, Chinese and Japanese explaining the real dangers posed at the problem beaches then if they choose to ignore that advice and the big bloody danger no swimming red flags oh and the many idiot proof notice boards and finally the local lifeguards then sorry we've done our best because you can't help a fool bent on destruction. Check out the Darwin awards on-line you'll see what I mean.

Posted by Scunner on August 1, 2011 01:09


Whatever happened to 'Summer Season" seem to recall this being a huge marketing push!!

Posted by MrMaximus on August 1, 2011 04:18


Tourist are there own worst enemy. On our last trip to Karon European tourist were yelling at life guards because they were not permitted in the water. After an almost fist fight, these European tourists move further down the beach away from the flags & life guards to enter the water.

There were about 30 people on the beach at the time & we all just looked at each other & shock our heads. I would like to know what the Thai life guards were saying when these Europeans moved on.

Posted by Richard on August 1, 2011 04:50


Not again!!! and that's without the ones who have nearly drowned at Patong beach and elsewhere on the island.

When will people start to realise that Phuket is not, never has been and never will be an all year-round beach holiday destination.

Posted by Nick on August 1, 2011 05:44


i walk Koron beach everyday, every season. i would not think of entering the sea during monsoon season. Common sense, intuition, and RED FLAGS tell me that it is unsafe. If tourists enter water with all the signage and warnings from lifeguards...well, as they say in this lovely country..."its up to you".
When does personal responsibility come into play? Everyone is so quick to point blame at everyone and everything except themselves.

Posted by nick on August 1, 2011 09:38

Editor Comment:

Personal responsibility is a part of it, nick, but remember that these people have been enticed to come to Phuket by the message that it's a year-round beach holiday destination. As you know, it isn't. When the deception ends, more lives will be saved.


a year round beach holiday resort it is, however, where can you point me to any advertisinhg that says to ignore signs, flags, lifeguard instructions, and especially...COMMON SENSE.

Posted by nick on August 1, 2011 09:47

Editor Comment:

We've been through this more than once, nick. Some of the victims are not made sufficiently aware of the danger. It's common sense - to them - to take the beach holiday they paid good money for. Plenty of marketing information tells the world what a great place Phuket is for a beach holiday - all year round. When the deceit stops, so will the drownings.


I love the beach and fully support the phuket lifeguards. i have seen the blatant disregard by many people to go swimming when there are red flags up. I must admit that going to the beach and seeing the whole beach red flagged is a little frustrating and can only sympathise with so many tourists coming here for a summer holiday. maybe one answer could be to have available some areas that are less dangerous open and saturated with lifeguards, that way at least there is an opportunity them to cool off.
Australia has a campaign in most shopping centres and everywhere asking and raising money to help support its lifeguards, maybe thats an option to get more equipment and lifeguards, i noticed that a hotel at naiyang has a rescue RIB boat but have never seen it used, Im not there everyday. In australia it is common to see lifeguards on paddle boards, zodiac boats and even helicopters around and people are still lost to the seas.

Posted by Anonymous on August 1, 2011 11:32


I don't think advertising Phuket as a beach destination is deceit as I am sure there are other beaches, perhaps on the east coast, where swimming is possible. And then you can take day trips to islands where swimming in the sea is possible as well.
Hotels are also doing their best to convey the message to the guest to please pay attention to the red flag warnings. Translations of the warning, roping off Karon beach at night, lifeguards verbally warning guests entering the surf, and lifeguards entering the waters to pull guests out to safety - all have been done to keep the guest alive.
Ultimately, with all the efforts put in, the person himself must make the decision to take heed or not.
And yes, I callously agree, the Darwinian logic is of the survival of the fittest and the smartest, and if you are not smart enough to listen to sound advice and warning, then sorry.
I'm truly sorry for the loss of loved ones, but I feel even more unfair for lifeguards who put their lives at risk for these stubborn fools.

Posted by May on August 1, 2011 13:44

Editor Comment:

So you are satisfied, May, that if a person buys a package for a beach holiday on the west coast of Phuket in July, it's ok if they have to to travel from Karon to ''somewhere'' on the east coast to swim? Hmmm . . . . are you a marketing copywriter, by any chance? Please let us know when you find that highly desirable east coast beach.


During the monsoon season Phuket airport immigration gives a slip (multi language) in the passport for every tourist arriving with a warning and the number and age of the people that have died. This would cover the vast majority of tourist. But some might argue that this is costly in a developing country? It could just be a cheap black and white photocopy! Are tourists numbers down, sure they are - because who can count the people that never come as they have read in the papers, heard on TV of these deaths. I know in Australia the recent death was well covered, Australians are meant to be the largest tourist market. I am an advanced diver but rarely go swimming in the monsoon season, but I can relate to the 2 week holiday maker that might have NEVER swam in a tropical ocean, Russians for example are a long way from the tropics. One thing is for sure, if immigration did this nearly every one would have been warned.

Posted by AdamAgainLookingForEve on August 1, 2011 17:20

Editor Comment:

The more repetitive the warnings, the better. But passing through Immigration can be a rushed experience and with so much information coming at people in different ways as they pick up their luggage, a warning in person at check-in is probably more effective. Many people at the airport are also heading to Phang Nga, Krabi, or a non-swimming golf holiday.

Sunday June 26, 2022
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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