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Local mayor Aroon Soroj witnessses a death on a Phuket beach today

German Tourist Drowns on Phuket Beach: Others Rescued While Defying Red Flag Warnings

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
PHUKET: A German tourist drowned on a Phuket beach this afternoon as an exceptionally high tide made seas dangerous and exposed the risks of swimming on the holiday island at the wrong time of the year.

Lifeguards rescued other tourists at several Phuket beaches as the ''blood moon'' lunar eclipse triggered unsafe surf - yet many visitors insisted on swimming in defiance of the red flags placed along the beaches.

Tragedy struck at Nai Harn beach, on Phuket's south coast, where German Frank Retsh, 34, drowned and a Korean woman and man narrowly escaped the same fate.

At Bang Tao beach, on Phuket's west coast, a resort staffer ran into the surf to save a guest - and both then required rescuing by lifeguards.

At Patong, a tourist was saved by jet-ski operators whose presence, the lifeguards say, makes swimming at that Phuket beach safer than at most other beaches.

It was at Nai Harn beach that tragedy occurred, with tourists joining lifeguards in using cardiopulmonary resuscitation and mouth-to-mouth to try to revive Mr Retsch, without success.

A Korean woman and man who also ignored red flags on the beach to go for a dip quickly found themselves pulled out to sea by a rip current.

Lifeguards rescued the Koreans but could not save Mr Retsch.

On the beach today and witnessing the bid to save the German tourist's life was Rawai Mayor, Aroon Soroj.

The Phuket drowning took the toll of tourists in the waters of Thailand to four deaths since Sunday, when an Indian couple drowned off Krabi and a Belgian man drowned after falling off a boat between the islands of Koh Tao and Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand.

Although the murders of two British tourists on Koh Tao on September 15 have captured the attention of news media around the world, many more tourists are killed needlessly in drownings and motorcycle crashes while on holiday in Thailand.

The Minister of Tourism and Sport, Kobkan Wattanawarangkul, was meeting with businesspeople and resort owners on her first official visit to Phuket today.

Lifeguards on Phuket say they need the help of all resorts to reduce the compulsion of tourists to swim at beaches on days when red warning flags are flying.

Tomorrow is another red flag day at all Phuket beaches.

*Phuketwan reporter Chutima Sidasathian has accepted an invitation by the World Health Organisation to attend a seminar on drowning in Bangkok on Friday in advance of next month's release of the first global report by WHO on drowning.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Let's face it, tourist not familiar with the danger in the water of Phuket beaches and also defying red flag warnings are in no way the responsibility of Phuket authorities.
People have to think, care their own safety, and not ignore the red flags.

Posted by Kurt on October 8, 2014 19:51

Editor Comment:

So some Phuket resorts entice people to Phuket at the dangerous time of the year, give no warnings, and are not in your view the slightest bit responsible . . . in my view, the resorts of Phuket are responsible for needless deaths. It's a shameful business for many.


This is NOT another blow of Phuket beach tourism. It is a happening due to personal ignorance of overwhelming amount of warnings and red flags. Personal responsibility is nr 1 thing when you now at Phuket beaches with all the warnings telling you not to swim!

Posted by Kurt on October 8, 2014 19:59

Editor Comment:

Nonsense. People who are enticed to Phuket at the wrong time of the year should be warned and warned repeatedly by those who take their money then let them die. Good resorts do warn their guests. Bad resorts deserve to have their reputations damaged.



Posted by Anonymous on October 8, 2014 20:00

Editor Comment:

We don't welcome libellous comments from anonymous people.


Mr Editor, Naiharn Beach is a public beach. I see daily many red flags, I see devoted life guards ignored in their attempts to keep tourists out of the water. If the 2 Indian people and the Belgian man did wear life vests as adviced probably they would still live. It is not fair to say that Phuket resorts are responsible. We don't know or resorts yes/no warned guest, even probably not know guests go to the beach with all this bad weather of the last 8 days. There are beach life guards, there are red flags, I see tourists making a ''go away hand gesture'' to beach life guards. We have to be fair and honest in this. We talk about adult tourists. At Phuket airport incoming tourists pick up in arrival hall a plastic folder, contents are a Phuket map, addresses of restaurants, and tailors. Just add a beach warning flyer.

Posted by Kurt on October 8, 2014 20:39

Editor Comment:

Your opinion is of much less value than that of the lifeguards and of Phuket, Australian and American water safety safety experts. I've sat on a headland at Nai Harn for hours and watched the behavior patterns of swimmers and lifeguards. For a start, the beach is too long and there are too few lifeguards to stop everyone. The problem is that the resorts don't bother to tell their guests about the red flags so by the time the tourists reach the beach ready to swim, it's too late for the lifeguards to be able to stop them. If you research the issue thoroughly, you will find that the experts - and Phuketwan - say that warnings are needed on arrival at the airport, directly in spoken terms from a receptionist on check-in, in the resort whenever red flags are flying, and from lifeguards for those who are foolish enough to head for the beach anyway. We've spoken to friends and families of the drowned and can base our opinions on direct experience with a number of needless tragedies, not guesswork. You must also be the only person who ever read anything handed to them at the airport. That's a neat way of creating an excuse, though.


The brain is the most outstanding organ. It works for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, right from your birth UNTIL your plane lands in Thailand.

Posted by Duncan B on October 8, 2014 20:47


You have the audacity to not publish from Anonymous and again respond with a pointless and meaningless "Editor Comment" of "We don't welcome libellous comments..." ... Prior to that you yourself have posted a clear libellous statement of "Bad resorts deserve to have their reputations damaged." ... Unless you are qualified [in Law] and can support your comment keep it to yourself and leave it to others ... Or to put it politely ... S T F U
Whilst writing:
"PHUKETWAN underwent an unplanned outage from about 8pm on Monday until 8am Tuesday. We apologise for the downtime and hope to correct the problem." .....
Was the problem an unpaid bill or a trial run for a permanent outage? ... I've got very reliable contacts if you need to "GO" and talk to "DADDY" if that was the problem ... If it's an electrical supply problem I have a big wheel and YOU must know someone who can run around inside as a RAT ... ha???????5 ha???????5 ha???????5
As the proposed Dolphin Park is unlikely to proceed without further protest we [The Group] have proposed alternative entertainment ... The main attraction [debatable] will be an hour long performance from PW's own MORISON THE MUPPET ... Eggs [rotten] and tomatoes [well past their sell-by date] will be available from several [if not all] stalls at the venue ... The first 500 to hit the facial area of the target will receive a years subscription to Phuket Gazette and The Phuket News ... Generous we know but all in a worthy cause ... ha???????5 ha???????5 ha???????5
Another one for your collection to print - cut out - colour in and pin on the wall ... ha???????5 ha???????5 ha???????5 .....

Posted by Amazed in Thailand on October 8, 2014 21:08

Editor Comment:

Yes, dear readers, this is the kind of comment that this particular author thinks is of value . . . .


"It's a shameful business for many."- ED

"Nonsense. People who are enticed to Phuket at the wrong time of the year should be WARNED and WARNED repeatedly by those who take their money then let them die"- ED

I put my 2 cents in and spent 8 months compiling a book about foreigner fatality factors in Thailand.To attempt a WARNING - but to no avail.There is no interest in the book - inside or outside Thailand. My bpen rai khrap.

I can still find a use for the paper in the book.. for toilet paper.


Finding a practical purpose for a wasted endeavor

Posted by farang888 on October 8, 2014 21:40


There is a lot of talk about drownings - just like there was in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006..

Maybe it's finally time for FACTA NON VERBA !

Posted by farang999 on October 8, 2014 21:45


Amazed in Thailand - priceless and love it.

Posted by phuketsaviour on October 8, 2014 21:49


No mr Editor,I did not write about anything presently warning at airport in the plastic folder in arriving hall. I wrote that it would be good to add a warning in the folder! ( as until now nothing is in it on arrival in airport). Perhaps now can also that warning sign at outgoing door arrival hall turn 180 degrees, so arrivals can read it?? Guess we had a misunderstanding. I still appeal on personal responsibilities. Beach guards and red flags are informative and warnings not to ignore. So, a flyer in airport, a flyer in hotel room, red flags in beach, beach life guards. Anything more?

Posted by Kurt on October 8, 2014 21:58

Editor Comment:

The answer is not more flyers - there are already too many for tourists to cope with - but personal contacts. A warning at resort reception should come with the welcoming drink between March and November. A video on descending aircraft is the other good idea. An sms message on arrival, too . . .


@Amazed In Thailand if you dislike AM so much why don't you merely stop reading PW, but to read you rambling is boring.

Posted by Feisty Farang on October 8, 2014 22:12


Let me add, the book is average at best quality-wise, not great, but even if it was great - in general it would still be ignored by those who could benefit from it ( tourists ).

As for those whose family member has died in the country - they have no need of the book either, because they will never go to Thailand again in most cases, plus they know the score at that point - from their viewpoint anyway.

Posted by farang888 on October 8, 2014 22:16


Editor Comment:

Yes, dear readers, this is the kind of comment that this particular author thinks is of value . . . .

Fair enough, Ed, but:

"The first 500 to hit the facial area of the target will receive a years subscription to Phuket Gazette and The Phuket News ..."

Sign me up, "Amazed in Thailand".


Posted by Smithy on October 8, 2014 22:36


Red flags 25 meters apart on Kamala Beach the other day (yes I paced them out) clearly marked with a line through a swimmer- at least 12 people ignoring them and in the surf. Lifeguards need the help of the tourists to obey their instructions- constantly blaming the hotels over people's ignorance achieves nothing. tell someone not to do it and its ;but I'm on holiday'. One doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to equate red don't swim flags and crashing waves with 'it may not be safe to go in the water today Ethel'. Why do you not advocate prosecuting people who ignore lifeguards, putting themselves and others at risk?

Posted by Mister Ree on October 8, 2014 22:45

Editor Comment:

Oh yes, the police have all the time in the world to spare. The resorts are the ones who do not put enough effort into protecting their guests. I will never forget talking to the friends of the man who arrived at a Phuket resort, went for a swim and drowned within an hour of arriving. The resort could have and should have warned him. Then there is the resort where two guests drowned at the same spot on Patong beach withing the space of a few months. Warnings at the resort would have saved them both. The resort management couldn't have cared less.


I think the editor and Kurt both make valid points, how about going one step further and having the airlines who make the flight into phuket accountable too, I mean it's not like there is a hell of a lot to do on the flight in, maybe a small warning on a page attahed to the immigration card in all languages warning of the dangers + some statistics of drownings of people who don't take this advice.

I have personally witnesed people dismiss lifeguards requests at swimming while red flags are present on numerous occasions , to the point the lifeguards are face to face asking please don't swim, to then being told to basically piss of and leave them alone, regardless of what safety precautions thai govt do there are always going to be someone you just can't save.

Posted by ohno on October 9, 2014 02:52

Editor Comment:

Indeed. As the lifeguards have said time and time again, when a tourist reaches the water determined to enjoy the swimming holiday he was promised, it's too late. The dangers have to be explained at least three times - properly and in person, not in brochures or information on the backs of doors. If the person still chooses to swim, then it's three strikes, you're out. But it's the collective responsibility of the Phuket community - especially those who entice people here and make money from the process - to send tourists home safely, not in boxes.


I agree resorts should tell them on admission, run videos on the room TV advertising the resort and the area and probably put up some signs, but people will still drown. Even here on the Gold Coast with extensive advise and many more lifeguards tourists drown every year. You need to tell them repeatedly, but combine the euphoria of holidays, add a little alcohol and everyone is bullet proof. At least the numbers could be reduced if the warnings are constant and in their face.

Posted by Davemc60 on October 9, 2014 05:06

Editor Comment:

Precisely. The needless deaths of Chinese snorkellers on day-trips off Phuket are another issue . . . there, the problem is a more obvious lack of care.


1. Your suggestion of a warning at reception and/or an in flight video is something I also suggested a couple of years ago. It certainly wouldn't hurt.
2. Why do you tolerate these pathetic, inane, hostile, ignorant, faceless, bullying trolls like "amazed in Thailand"? If people don't want to contribute to the debate in a meaningful way just hit the delete key and save the energy you waste responding to them.

Posted by pete59 on October 9, 2014 07:29

Editor Comment:

I only respond when a dingbat flaps its wings so hard that there's a danger of putting the earth off its orbit.


We were told in one of you many ME ME ME articles you were stopping your comments ED but if anything your rants are getting worse now,dingbat is hardly a word your little deputy odd job would use so it must be you do us a favour and go take rest maybe pack

Posted by Scunner on October 9, 2014 11:21

Editor Comment:

The reason why you never appear, Scunner, is because you once accused PW of being corrupt. Come to think of it, you never have a good word to say about anybody. Consider this a special appearance just to let you know: when you sincerely apologise to PW, we will consider posting you again. Until then . . . it's BYE BYE BYE.


Blaming the resorts is hardly fair - their is another group call TAT who market Phuket as a year round destination and they too must shoulder the blame as much as resorts must too.

However everyone has a duty of care to take care of themselves. Ignoring red flags and lifeguards is downright negligent.

Posted by phuket Saviour on October 9, 2014 12:31

Editor Comment:

The resorts are the ones who entice the tourists and it's time they became more involved in safeguarding guests. Blaming the victims is not intelligent, PS. We're carefully explained the reasons why some of them ignore the red flags. Perhaps you need to read more widely.


wait for the carnage in front of the football stadium in south karin to start???.by that i mean???.the lifeguards cannot patrol that part of the beach???.myself and 2 other burmese surfers who worked for a well known thai business owner were constantly pulling people out of the water down there until the army decided to kick everyone off the beach???..not only that???they kept the beach immaculately clean???.now its full of rubbish???.but thats cool???.when they've decided what new hand the money from operators will go to, then we can all get back to surfing and working the beach protecting the beach and millions of tourists???while the lifeguards look on???..oh and by the way???.i'm getting constant complaints outide of thailand about tourists not being able to by refreshments and food on the beach???.not to mention the fact that theres no umbrellas???which the majority of tourists enjoy and need???.

Posted by deported katoey ness on October 9, 2014 14:45


If you go on one airplane and jump off from 5000ft without a parachute, are your family going to blame the pilot? When you are an adult, or maybe a retard?

Same people ignore red flags and tell lifeguard to piss off, walk to sea and expect other people to rescue them bacauuse of their stupidity,,,,lol

Posted by mr .logic on October 9, 2014 15:12

Editor Comment:

If you go on a plane and the doors suddenly open and you fly out without warning, of course you are going to blame the pilot. Please spare us from inappropriate laughter, mr logic. Only dingbats do that.


When i go to city, i dont walk on red and blame the government for not bring me nanny or police to tell me

Posted by mr .logic on October 9, 2014 16:08

Editor Comment:

I guess you are a dingbat.


Mr ed,,,
I am not dingbat,
I just say you can use common sense and not need a babysitter all the time when you are an adult, not a child,

When we go to the beach i tell my children not go swim if red flag, they understand, stay on beach play with fotball instead

Posted by mr .logic on October 9, 2014 17:46


@ Mr.Nologic

Phuket is marketed as around the year beach holiday destination. They even (tried) to coin in the concept of "Green Season". Prospective tourists are flooded with (20y old) pictures of pristine beaches and turquoise water. No mention of low season dangers.

I have never seen jumping off an airplane without a parachute or jaywalking being "marketed" as safe. Your comparison defies all logic but you might have a future as a comedian.

Posted by Herbert on October 9, 2014 17:55


Any one notice the kindly words for the jet ski operators so rare I took detailed note.

Posted by slickmelb on October 9, 2014 18:05

Editor Comment:

When there's a problem the jet-ski operators always help out.


A lunar eclipse has no effects on tides whatsoever.

Posted by Eclipse Chasing Mare on October 9, 2014 19:33

Editor Comment:

But a full moon does. Look out your window.


To mr herbert,,,,,,
Are you stupid little or you play,

As i said when i take children to beach i tell them what is right and wrong,
They are 4 and 7 years old,

When you are 20 up , you should know better, otherwise bring your mum or daddy take care not blame thailand ,,,lol

Take care next time, i send yo a nanny for you to swim, just tell me what time you go,,,,,,

Posted by mr .logic on October 9, 2014 20:41

Editor Comment:

Oh no! More laughter in inappropriate places.

Friday June 21, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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