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A boy drowned this afternoon in the channel near here at  Nai Harn

Phuket Beach Drowning of Child Shocks New Year Holidaymakers

Saturday, December 31, 2011
PHUKET: The body of a seven-year-old boy lies in a Phuket City hospital tonight after he drowned at a popular Phuket beach this afternoon.

The boy's death shocked lifeguards and tourists at Nai Harn, Phuket's main southern beach. He was pulled with barely a pulse about 2.40pm from the channel that runs under the road between the lagoon and the billabong at one end of the sand.

It was a tragic reminder of the death of a young boy named Max, who drowned on a family outing near the same spot at the same beach on New Year's Day, 2010.

How the boy today managed to enter the channel and why his disappearance was not noted earlier were still unanswered questions this afternoon.

Lifeguards said their duties rested with the beach and the supervision of the billabong and its channel to the lagoon was the responsibility of the Rawai council.

Ironically, Nai Harn is the beach where establishment of a training centre for lifeguards and for teaching local children water safety has been delayed indefinitely because of an argument about who will own the centre.

Rawai council is involved in the dispute. If the centre will prevent more tragedies of the kind that involve Max and today's young victim, who cares who owns it?

The money is ready and waiting to build the centre. Only politics are preventing it being built.

Phuket's drowning toll so far this year appears to be much higher than it should be by comparison with the Phuket road toll.

Latest figures for October show five people died by drowning - and six died on the roads.

In the August-September-October period, 25 people have died on Phuket roads while 11 have drowned at beaches or in canals - an exceptionally high ratio given the number who use the roads compared to those who enter the water.

The boy's family were enjoying their New Year holiday on Phuket after a trip from Songkhla. His body is at Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket City.

Comments

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Condolence to the family - but how can a training center prevent a tragically drowning accident in a channel?

Posted by Sherlock on December 31, 2011 16:51

Editor Comment:

How can an unbuilt lifeguard centre help to save lives and educate children about where to swim safely?

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my question would be. where are the parents????

Posted by john s on December 31, 2011 17:45

Editor Comment:

The answer, john s, is deeply in mourning.

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What's a billabong?

Posted by dan ryan on December 31, 2011 18:32

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condolences to the family.

FYI local info: that channel when it runs into the tunnel / pipe has a lot of fishing hooks in it from locals who fish there. they leave very thin fishing lines in with many small hooks attached, sometimes attached to floating plastic bottles.

It also has a very deep rounded depression at the entrance to the tunnel. It's formed from water ingress/egress associated with tides. It's depth is about 1.5-2 meters at times, and can be missed because it's less than a meter in width. these two things combined make it dangerous.

Posted by JingJing on December 31, 2011 19:45

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As the Ed rightly pointed out... Who cares who owns it. Truth be known they know they can't make any money from it so don't want to know...

Deepest condolences the the family, one can only speculate as to the grief they must be feeling.

Posted by Graham on December 31, 2011 19:56

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I would also like to know what a Billabong is.

Posted by christian on December 31, 2011 21:54

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Gotta agree with john s... Where were the parents? Sorry ED but anyone who's raised a child knows it is their responsibility first and foremost and definitely not lifeguards, caregivers, friends, relatives, politicians or random passers-by.

Posted by Mick D on December 31, 2011 22:39

Editor Comment:

There's a time and a place for everything, Mick D. To look for someone to blame so soon after the boy's death is appalling. As for who was minding the child . . . I guess you and john s know for sure, eh? How callous of both of you.

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Billabong, is an Australian word used to describe a section of a river, that has been cut off from the river, when the river has been diverted, usually by natural causes....to most it would appear as a lake or pond, I would not call this area of Nai Harn a billabong

Posted by Laurie Howells on January 1, 2012 09:11

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Then if it's parochial Aussie slang, (and apart from the fact that its inappropriately used to describe the natural feature alluded to), it is sloppy journalism and has no place in this article which is targetted at an international audience.

Posted by dan ryan on January 1, 2012 11:33

Editor Comment:

Oh, and Happy New Year to you, too, dan (''I'll try not to be so miserable in 2012'') ryan.

The world ''Billabong'' has Australian origins but it has long been in most dictionaries, has never been slang, and is on half the world's t-shirts and shorts. Look around Phuket.

''Billabong [bil-uh-bawng, -bong] a branch of a river flowing away from the main stream but leading to no other body of water; a blind or dead-end channel. ''

By the way, where is the cheque for your 20-year subscription? Then you'd be ''free'' to criticise as unreasonably as you like, just as you are now ''free'' to read Phuketwan. I bet you never look anything up in a dictionary, either.

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What a tragedy for his family. I still don't see the need for building a center for training near the parking area of Nai Harn Beach. I see a need for training everyday though, especially of the "lifeguards." After my swim yesterday I saw all of one lifeguard on the beach and he was busy playing with his phone. No one was actually watching the water. I still haven't heard any response from the Phuket Lifeguard Club regarding trying to setup a training and certification program with the International Lifesaving association that my nephew is a very active member of. He is also a junior lifeguard instructor. I would love to see a junior guard program set up here. Since I grew up at the beach, my mother was smart enough to make me take swimming lessons, be on swim clubs, and junior lifeguards about 50 years ago... Let's at least try to make it happen here!

Posted by Jim on January 1, 2012 13:53

Editor Comment:

There's already a good training program set up through official channels with Australian lifeguards, Jim, although I'm sure they would appreciate more help. Thai culture is: keep your children away from the water, and they will be safe. The lifeguard centre, where a disused sala now stands, has financial support from Australia, and would give you somewhere to talk freely in the Thai language to young kids about why learning to swim is so important.

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Neither callous nor looking to blame and it matters not who was actually "minding the child" at the time. The FACT is: it is parents' responsibility to guarantee the safety of their child(ren) and no one else's.

Posted by Mick D on January 1, 2012 15:30

Editor Comment:

That may be your view Mick D but i suspect teachers and lawyers and many parents may have a different view. It's your FACT, no one else's. Putting words in capital letters proves nothing and persuaded no one.

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Surely I'm free to criticise now, without a 20 year subscription? I doubt (as you do also) you or your organ will be around for 20 years anyway.

Posted by dan ryan on January 1, 2012 21:53

Editor Comment:

I'm going to make the critical decision to wipe all your criticisms from here on, miserable man, dan. There isn't a single comment you've made that added anything. I don't have time to waste on those who have nothing to contribute. Byeee.

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"There's already a good training program set up through official channels with Australian lifeguards, Jim, although I'm sure they would appreciate more help. Thai culture is: keep your children away from the water, and they will be safe. The lifeguard centre, where a disused sala now stands, has financial support from Australia, and would give you somewhere to talk freely in the Thai language to young kids about why learning to swim is so important."

Most lifeguards in Australia aren't professionals, they are clubs. And from what I've seen of the lifeguards here, they seem to take the word club literally. A place to hang out, eat, chat do anything besides watch the water for potential problems. That may be why the number of drownings is almost keeping pace with the number of road deaths. Talking about and doing are two different things. But as always; up to them...

Posted by Jim on January 2, 2012 12:30

Editor Comment:

Yes, there's no beach lifesaver culture here yet - just as there once wasn't in Australia, likewise with swim teaching. They need all the help they can get, but progress won't come in a hurry.

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By the way, the riptide formed by this outlet afternoon tide shift is also deadly and has claimed too many people. I rescued two Thai youths from it and it still managed to get the better of me. Only thing that kept me from dying was training. Asking for a "tired swimmer tow" from the guy who stands on his long board. Glad he saw me. Someone (Phuketwan?) might well post a map of the known rips online, plenty of know full well where they are. Then printing it as a seasonal handout from local schools or temples.

Posted by JingJing on January 2, 2012 22:40

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"Yes, there's no beach lifesaver culture here yet - just as there once wasn't in Australia, likewise with swim teaching. They need all the help they can get, but progress won't come in a hurry."

I agree with your comment. Just for the record, I'm from California, where we have had, and do have paid and trained professional beach lifeguards since at least the 1940's...

Posted by Jim on January 2, 2012 23:16

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"By the way, the riptide formed by this outlet afternoon tide shift is also deadly and has claimed too many people. I rescued two Thai youths from it and it still managed to get the better of me. Only thing that kept me from dying was training. Asking for a "tired swimmer tow" from the guy who stands on his long board. Glad he saw me. Someone (Phuketwan?) might well post a map of the known rips online, plenty of know full well where they are. Then printing it as a seasonal handout from local schools or temples."

You can be pretty sure that there will be a rip current near the sides of the lagoon outlet. There is a sand bar there. Rip current change with the tide and movement of the sand. Two things to always watch for are: the water turning brown from the sand being carried out to sea and that the waves won't break in a small area, but they will not far from that area. It means the water is being channeled out, causing the sand to be carried along with not letting the wave break. Those are the obvious signs of a rip current, in the ocean. In the outlet area you are talking about, it's not for swimming, especially up by where the water is coming out of the lagoon. Any swift water area is unsafe. I saw they put up red flags all around the outlet area today. Too late, but better than never. Also if there are deep and shallow areas of sand, it's a danger sign that there is a rip current. If you are able to swim, never try to swim against the rip current. Always swim parallel to the beach to get out of the rip current area then swim inshore. If you are unable to swim, don't go in the water!

Posted by Jim on January 3, 2012 02:28


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