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The northern end of Karon beach: A beast beneath the beauty

Phuket 'Death Beach' Claims Two More in a Day

Tuesday, November 9, 2010
TWO people, one a Russian tourist and the other a Thai, drowned at Karon beach yesterday in separate incidents - two more notches of death for a notorious strip of sand that must surely face closure on danger days to prevent more tragedies.

The body of the Thai man, who went swimming in jeans with a friend at Karon's northern end yesterday, near the new Centara Grand Resort, washed up today close to the beach centre, opposite the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa.

The Russian man, a tourist, went swimming despite warnings from lifeguards and was pulled from the water about 5.30pm yesterday, about the same time as the Thai man disappeared further along Karon beach.

The Russian's companion, who told lifeguards he was a doctor, helped apply cpr. But the tourist died in an ambulance on the way to Patong Hospital. He was named today as Dimitry Kuznephov, 40.

The body of Kittisak Klongpiled, 25, who vanished yesterday, was fetched from the Karon sand about 3pm today. He was a construction worker from Isarn.

Chalong police were called to investigate both drownings. Two more deaths in a single day make calls for the closure of Karon beach on danger days the only sensible option.

Every death further damages the reputation of Karon and Phuket. While the beach is relatively safe in the high season between December and April, rip currents make it a death trap during the monsoon low season.

Ironically, the beach was No. 4 on the Lonely Planet list of the ''world's best family beaches'' just last year. There are families who have been through the mourning process all over the world now who can say that is definitely not an accurate listing.

Some resorts along the Karon beachfront have reacted to pleas from the lifeguards for help in warning tourists of the dangers. Others reject any responsibility.

Phuket's reputation for tourist safety and security rides on the strength of communal approaches that have yet to be seen in Karon.

Other Phuket beaches have been the scene of drownings. But the continuing heavy toll shows that Karon is, quite simply, a potential death strip virtually every day between April and December.

The call last month by Phuket Lifeguard Club chief Prathayut ''Nut'' Cheryon to close the beach to save would-be swimmers from themselves must now surely be heeded.

It's also time that ethical resorts stopped marketing Karon as a year-round beach holiday destination.
Phuket Lifeguards Say 'Let's Close Karon Beach'
Latest Lifeguards are calling for the closure on danger days of one popular Phuket beach unless more improvements can be made to safeguard tourists who opt to swim despite warnings.
Phuket Lifeguards Say 'Let's Close Karon Beach'

Phuket Swim Warning as Coma Tourist Flies Home
Latest Phuket lifeguards have had a busy weekend already - and warn swimmers to beware of conditions on Monday. Meanwhile, a French tourist in a coma has been flown home.
Phuket Swim Warning as Coma Tourist Flies Home

French Tourist Fights For Life: Day of Disasters
UPDATE One French tourist is fighting for his life in hospital, a Russian is stuck on an offshore rock, and two other Russians had a narrow escape from drowning.
French Tourist Fights For Life: Day of Disasters

Phuket Russian Rescues Raise Swim Alert Issue
Latest Safety in the water at Phuket beaches remains an issue even though latest figures show that the drowning toll on the island has been dramatically reduced.
Phuket Russian Rescues Raise Swim Alert Issue

For Phuket's Sake, Remember Rebecca and Swim Safe
News Analysis The inquest on a young British holidaymaker who drowned on her first day in the surf on Phuket is told of her final moments. It's a tragedy that must not be repeated.
For Phuket's Sake, Remember Rebecca and Swim Safe

Phuket Drownings: Time to Adopt In-Flight Warnings
News Analysis Visitors to Australia will be warned in flight before they arrive about dangers at the beaches. Introducing a water safety video on flights coming to Phuket would save lives.
Phuket Drownings: Time to Adopt In-Flight Warnings


Comments have been disabled for this article.


I could not agree more with this report. This will be a classic showdown between Big Money and the value of human life.

Let's see where the scales will settle here in Thailand. Call me a cynic if you want but somehow I'm not too optimistic.

Posted by Chris on November 9, 2010 17:16


and how do you propose closing the whole of Karon beach??
how would you define a danger day??
if these people are stupid enough to go swimming despite lifeguards warnings then more fool them!!

Posted by another steve on November 9, 2010 17:23


I was on Karon Beach on Sunday and it wasn't entirely clear what the situation was. Yes there were two red flags flying, but there were also tons of people swimming.
Like a lemming, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that 'everyone else is doing it so it must be ok and the flags are wrong..........'
In all honesty, the life-guards need to have bull-horns with a recorded message on them which tells people to come out of the water. They need to stand on shore and wave frantically and GET people out of the water if they are going to fly the red flags. Its the only way.
Once people see everyone coming out of the water, they'll soon get the message.

Posted by Mr Man on November 9, 2010 18:39


According to that meteorological forecast website, strong winds from southwest will blow from Wednesday afternoon until Sunday with rough sea.
So we may expect more drownings for the second half of the week.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on November 9, 2010 18:59


Every afternoon I swim at Surin beach and every day I see people not giving the beach the respect it deserves in terms of danger. These beaches are far more dangerous than they appear to be from the shore. The worst offenders are usually the worst swimmers as well.

Posted by logbags on November 9, 2010 19:49


I can't help but be reminded of the original Jaws movie, where the mayor wouldn't close the beach because it would harm tourism.

One day a lifeguard will die, drowned by a struggling tourist twice his weight. All respect to the lifeguards, but they need more official support.

Posted by Genghis on November 9, 2010 20:03


I am a surfer who loves big waves - it would be tragic if they tried to stop me or others who love the ocean and can handle it, to miss out - so please do not tell me not to go in...

Posted by surfer on November 9, 2010 20:19


Everytimes I ask myself why this never happen to French or Italians.. or Australian people. Maybe for the respect that they have for the sea??
Anyway the beachguards have not enough equipment : they need small electric car like in California and big handle speaker to recall the people are going to swimming everywhere long all the beach: nobody should be allowed to go swim without special equipment (surfboard or suit or lifejacket). If the situation becomes very dangerous better close the beaches!!!

Posted by Dave on November 9, 2010 20:53

Editor Comment:

Being French or Australian or Italian makes no difference. They die too, but not as frequently.


Surfer? What an idiot. Exactly the kind of mentality that is the cause of the drownings.

Posted by Mac on November 9, 2010 23:40


@Mac: Don't worry about "surfer". Darwin always wins.

Posted by Mike Boyd on November 10, 2010 00:10


well said, surfer.

Posted by Lord Jim on November 10, 2010 07:55


"It's also time that ethical resorts stopped marketing Karon as a year-round beach holiday destination."

Amen to that and I'd add let's hold the ones that are or have, accountable. This is where civil law is more than applicable.
And I back surfer, sporting folk with boards aren't drowning, it is the tourists.

Posted by Media Watcher on November 10, 2010 09:54

Editor Comment:

The last thing the situation needs is lawyers and court action: that's not a Thai/Phuket solution. The sensible course is community action to prevent further tragedies. Blame is not the issue - saving lives is what this is about.


Perhaps signs should be posted showing the number who have drowned and the number who have been rescued so far this season, that might shake people up. Either that or rename it "Killer Beach" .

Posted by Antz Pantz on November 10, 2010 17:26


There is no current past the break. Been swimming it daily for years. It is the last clean water in the area.

Posted by Daily Karon on November 10, 2010 21:46


I am also with surfer on this one.
If we can surf 30M waves with all the currents and reverse rips so be it, thats what we have learnt to do. I am also past 50 years old so Darwin has not got me.
So the trouble is Karon is marketed as an all year round beach, yes it is but NOT for swimming.
People should take responsibility for their own lives and stop waiting and wanting others to molly coddle them.
This is fact and time enough for excuses and PLEASE stop blaming others for the drowning victim's stupidity !

Posted by Graham on November 11, 2010 12:08

Editor Comment:

Graham, I've talked to survivors who were in the water with victims and what they told me was that they were never warned. They weren't told it was dangerous. By the time people reach the water's edge, determined to enjoy the swim that they paid for, it's too late. That makes it Phuket's problem. Stupidity is also not a condition that deserves the death penalty.


The lifeguards most certainly do need more support/ training. As of now they are just props. I had a friend from Australia who we all watched franticly beg for a lifeguards help on karons north end. They refused to enter the water and only yelled at him when he managed to crawl onto the beach. They would have let him die. Just having a lifeguard present is worsening the situation. People would be more cautious if they didn't falsely think there lives were being protected by these so called lifeguards.
Don't expect help if you need it. Obey the red flags. That being said, i understand fully why people ignore those red flags. They put those things up about 95% of the time. Even on days where the ocean is totally calm and safe. If people weren't laughing at the red flags elsewhere on the island perhaps they would be more respected in real danger zones like karon, surin and Naiharn. But The unfortunate reality is. You'll never get the Thai's to care. One more reason why this and future busy seasons may never really arrive.

Posted by Kevin on November 11, 2010 16:17

Editor Comment:

Hey Kevin, You've just slandered the entire Thai nation by extending your narrow experience across the breadth of the entire country. It's just not fair or accurate to make the kind of assumptions you've made. here are Thais who care, plenty of them. And the issue of whether lifeguard should endanger themselves to rescue people who ignore their red flags and warnings is an important one. I am sure you would be quick to take the plunge, right? What's required is a more thorough triple-tiered warning system and better equipment so lifeguards are not at risk in Phuket's deadly rips. The lifeguards are gradually learning how to be lifesavers. A dead lifesaver is not much use to anyone.


Dear Editor,

Guess what, That narrow experience i witnessed has happened to more then a few people. It's not as narrow as you may think.

I'm merely trying to alert any readers who may want to take a plunge of the realities they face. And Editor, The simple fact is, if the powers at hand cared. It wouldn't take much to equip and train those young men a little bit better. Don't even think about calling it an issue of time or money. Because it's not. If this was happening in any other country, Your average caring citizen would be at town hall making sure the issues got solved in a real hurry.

However, One has to reflect.. If the Thai's ran this place how we run our countries. It wouldn't be half the fun anymore, now would it.

Bottom line is, the flags are up, Swim at your own risk, But don't expect help if needed. It's not guaranteed as it is on Bondi beach or elsewhere.

Posted by Kevin on November 14, 2010 17:14


Aren't most beaches often dangerous when facing the ocean ? Isn't that the law of nature that underwater currents will occur ? I was there same week when people drowned in Bondi Beach and same in Gambia. I did my lesson in Ipanema and read my Lonely plant, explaining that "Ipanema" in fact means "dangerous water" in Indian language, Same day I saw 3 people saved by lifeguards. Same in Bondi.
My point is don't swim when the beach facing the ocean when waves are big and it is tidal water unless you well trained and equipped for it (like surfers). Avoid the risk.

Posted by joy on November 23, 2010 01:17

Editor Comment:

It's true that all beaches are dangerous to one degree or another but some beaches are decidedly treacherous. The most deadly parts of Karon's beaches, for example, appear to be the most tranquil. The danger has nothing to do with the size of the waves, although non-swimmers can also have problems with those. Phuket's beaches are remarkably safe in the non-monsoon season.


Does anyone know what is the actual true total of deaths on Karon an Kata beach in 2010? Let's hope that measures can be put in place soon to decrease this sad loss of life. These poor tourists come here looking for sun and relaxation and unfortunately they are not experienced with the dangers of the sea. Tourists who come from countries such as Russia, Denmark and China may not have as much knowledge of the seas dangers as people from places such as Australia and the US. The Thai government should produce a leaflet which is distributed through Travel agents and hotels in multiple languages warning tourists of the dangers that they could face while in Phuket.... Education is the key to solving many problems, especially those that are so life threatening.

Posted by Passionate About Phuket on January 14, 2011 19:48

Thursday April 18, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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