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Surf pounds the sand yesterday at Phuket's Kata beach after the boy vanished

UPDATE Phuket Parents in Forlorn Vigil: Boy, 13, Drowns in Rough Surf at Phuket Beach

Friday, June 13, 2014
UPDATING All Day, Every Day

THE BOY'S body washed ashore at Kata about 8.30am on Friday.

Original Report

PHUKET: A 13-year-old boy is missing, feared drowned after being swept out to sea at a Phuket beach late yesterday. The boy's father and mother were still sitting at Kata beach early today, maintaining a vigil in hope.

Abhisit Songlerd, a pupil at the Orborjor School near Chalong Circle, was swimming with a pal when a wave swept six people beyond their depth at Kata.

Two tourists and three Thais managed to fight their way back to the beach, with the help of lifeguards. But the boy was lost in the pounding surf.

''We put red flags out all along Karon and Kata beaches but the swimmers ignore the red flags,'' said lifeguard Auten Singsom last night.

''It hurts us deeply when people ignore what we tell them and go into the water and can't be rescued.''

Dangerous seas are expected to prevail as a monsoon storm plays havoc with conditions at Phuket's popular west coast beaches over the next few days.

Kata is one bay south of Karon, generally regarded as Phuket's most dangerous beach at this time of the year.

About 35 swimmers and snorkellers drowned at Phuket beaches and on day-trips last year, the worst year most people can recall on the year-round holiday island.

Accurate figures are not released by authorities in the mistaken belief that tourists should not be told about the danger.

Phuket lifeguards say there are not enough of them to patrol long beaches and warn everybody not to swim, but pleas to scores of shorefront resorts to warn their guests more effectively have drawn a poor response from all but the best establishments.

''The resort swimming pool is the obvious choice on a day like today,'' said Khun Auten. ''As for people who don't have a swimming pool as an alternative, well, one look at the waves should be warning enough not to venture in.''

The search for the boy will resume at first light.

Lifeguards patrol 13 Phuket beaches but funding has yet to be found to provide them at Racha island, a day-trip snorkelling destination close to Phuket, where Chinese visitors have drowned with alarming frequency through lack of knowledge of how to snorkel safely.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Put yourself in the shoes of the parents for a moment, and realize the hopeless despair they are forced to incur, and lifeguards like Auten are badly shaken when tourists and Thais ignore red flags. There should be no choice in the matter when red flags go up, but not sure how they could enforce it, outside of forced education. I wonder who will step up and be proactive first, so more parents don't need to suffer like that, never mind the poor fellow in his last moments. It's sickening...

Posted by farang888 on June 13, 2014 04:54


So so sad, but , we can all see how rough and dangerous the Seas are , why do people still choose to ignore Red Flags, and obvious dangers, poor kid, his parents must be feeling awful to say the least

Posted by Robert on June 13, 2014 10:27


All should remember you need to be responsible for yourself when swimming in the ocean. Unfortunately there are many who are not used to big surf in Phuket. That is why a free website with excellent easy to understand information has been created. Please help save lives and stop these tragedies from happening. GET THE WORD OUT. Share this website on facebook, twitter and Pinterest. No one should be a victim if they have the correct information.

Posted by aaron on June 13, 2014 10:37


Put bigger flags and flag poles.
Tie rope across each flag pole to the next.
People might think twice.

Posted by Smithy on June 13, 2014 13:25


Was at Nai Harn yesterday and a lifeguard had to whistle in a guy trying to boogy board. Signs stating, "Deadly Rip Currents", or outright, "You Risk Death by Swimming" should be posted during these few days. Anybody swimming in this either has supreme confidence or wants to kill themselves. Sending my positive energy and prayers to the boy's parents.

Posted by RB on June 13, 2014 16:36


@Smithy I think you are right, I also think if people still go in the Police should be called. The sight of a Policeman should bring people out of the water. To me if there are signs present there should be a 1000Baht fine for not obeying them. Too many people are dying.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on June 13, 2014 17:04


Its not the job of the police to determine the swimming ability of any person. Phukets surf would not be considered big nor is is dangerous.
A rip is not dangerous if you understand how it forms and how to use it.
The danger is the lack of ability of those with no experience in any surf, who look at it as a swimming pool with a few waves.
Some people need protection from themselves but I'm not sure that this can be enforced.

Posted by Manowar on June 13, 2014 19:59


aaron, That is an excellent web site, and will save lives. ( tangent: When I was a kid, my Dad told me how great a baseball player Hank Aaron was. My first Thai gf was named Arun, named for the light of dawn, and ya, she took me to Wat Arun.) Thanks for being proactive, as reactive has failed miserably. Finally the light.

Posted by farang888 on June 13, 2014 22:49


First and foremost, safety messages should be effective: they should produce result, that these messages are read and understood by addressees, here by beach patrons.
That is, these messages (here I mean at first those for green season that explains that no swimming at all and rip currents) should be displayed, as e.g. Blue Flag guidelines prescribe, at entrances to beaches - not like in many cases in Phuket - some location, in a shadow between two casuarina or palm trees, which is not in demand by local outdoor advertising industry, and as a result such info board doesn't attract attention of addressees. That seems to be deliberate practice - to imitate activity that "yes, we do inform tourist", but to implement that in purposefully ineffecient, in order not that message of danger would not rich a tourist, as otherwise a tourist may not come at green season to Phuket - since most of them come on a false premise that they can swim in a sea, which they can't do at this period.
Then??, info boards should be such that they can be read by beach patrons, i.e. written i a language which beach patrons understands. Giving that there are a lot of Thais, incl. coming form other provinces, surely this info should be displayed in Thai.
Then, should come English, and language of tow statistically largest linguistic groups of visitors - Chinese and Russian. It technically easily possible to put all necessary messages at info board in 4 languages.
And a discussion whether Chinese and Russians should go at first to language school before they step onto Thailand soil, has nothing to do with safety - to provide a real safety in real life circumstances it should be taken into account that they mostly do not speak English.
Boards should be much much larger then they are in order to accommodate larger font than is employed on boards now.
Then, all marking should be done in accordance with
ISO 20712-1 Water safety signs and beach safety flags - P.1: Specifications for water safety signs used in workplaces and public areas ,
ISO 20712-2 Water safety signs and beach safety flags - P.2: Specifications for beach safety flags - Colour, shape, meaning and performance,
ISO 20712-3 Water safety signs and beach safety flags - P.3: Guidance for used
In particular, it is outrageous what signs about PROHIBITION of swimming are now on the board: BLUE ring, not crossed, with swimmer image inside- and belwo in small font it is type - NO SWIM.
The design of such sign - blue not crossed ring is used exactly for opposite purpose: permission to do smth. Instead it had to be RED ring and CROSSED - that means prohibition. No wonder that such schizoid illustration make beach patrons confused, and safety message doesn't achieve a goal.

Then, about safety flags, firts, there are so many other flags on the beach that those which are supposed to be safety flags are simply lost and do not attract necessary attention. Moreover, parasailing operators use red flags to mark an area of a beach which they supposed to use for their business - which in no way corresponds with red safety flags meaning NO SWIM. And there are many other flags - national, religious, commercial advertising etc. on Phuket beaches, which makes any safety flag lost in a rainbow of colours of those "other" flags.
Then, most important: safetey flags, that are used in Phuket is JOKE because they are simply TOO SMALL:
ISO 20712 prescribes the following size for Red/ Yellow-Red flags:

"Mounting position
Each flag should be attached to a pole, with the
base of the flag no less than 2.3m above the immediately
surrounding ground level. Flags should be positioned
so they can be seen from the beach and water with ease:
for example, they should not be obscured by trees
or structures."

no less than 2.3m!!! what we can see in Phuket - 1m?

"Minimum size 750mm x 900mm
Maximum size 1500mm x 1800mm"

What size of of those flags that are used in Phuket, and which looks like from Toys' shop? They are clearly below minimum size.

ISO 20712 standard is used in Australia and Europe and many other countries.
Thailand Industrial Standards Institute(TISI) is responsible for adoption national standards in Thailand, incl. ISO standards.
I tried to establish on their website whether ISO 20712 has been adopted as a national standard, it seems that part of web site does not work well, but it doesn't look that TISI adopted ISO 20712 as a national standard.
So, the first step, should be for TISI to adopt ISO 20712, but for government or local authorities, to make legislative steps to make application of this standard mandatory, whether in the Kingdom , or in their particular municipality.

ISO 20712 prescribes how information about flags should be displayed etc.
Some summary with pictures can be seen here - and it is obvious how far Phuket is form satisfying ISO 20712 requiremnets, i.e. how far Phuket is from any reasonable display of safety information to beach patrons:

Beach management guidelines, those like BlueFlag, incorporate all necessary safety requirements, and as well includes reference to ISO 20712.

Therefore, it would be really beneficial to apply a-ready-to-use integrate system like BlueFlag for Phuket beach management by local authorities that would bring Phuket beach into competitive shape.

Safety message bears teh same criteria as advertisement - if they got reach to recipient brain then it is properly designed and delivered safety message.
Discussion that beach patrons are stupid, irresponsible, notg enough eduacted on subject, influenced by actors from tourism industry who act on their commercial interests, is irrelevant, as safety messages should be delivered at the entrances to a beach and on the beach in way and form that beach patrons "got a message" regardless of other factors.
And ISO 20712 and Blue Flag provides for that.

Posted by Sue on June 14, 2014 04:09


Can someone cut the power to the district where Sue lives!

Posted by Manowar on June 14, 2014 07:20


Red flags showing a 5,000 Baht fine clearly written in several languages, might help save FEW lives. My sympathy goes to the lifeguards that put their own lives at stake.

Posted by agogohome on June 14, 2014 08:47



A word to the wise: Brevity.

Posted by Sam Wilko on June 14, 2014 19:12


@Sam Wilko

Do you have anything to tell on the substance?

Or only to spew prescriptions on "linguistic fascism" from the the comfort of your arm-chair?

Posted by Sue on June 15, 2014 16:05


Has Whistleblower changed his name to Sue?

Posted by Mister Ree on June 15, 2014 18:58


@Mister Ree

Apparently not, as I, unlike Whistleblower, don't have HHH T-shirt.

Posted by Sue on June 15, 2014 20:08

Sunday May 27, 2018
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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