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The Nefedovs, uncompensated and neglected by Phuket authorities

Phuket Speedboat Victims Head Home: Blind Authorities Leave a Mess to be Fixed

Sunday, December 11, 2011
News Analysis

PHUKET: Russian tourists Nikolai Nefedov and his wife are on their way home from Phuket, leaving behind some unanswered questions about how Phuket cares for tourists in trouble.

The couple are expected to board a flight heading for Ekaterinburg, in the Ural mountains, from Bangkok on Monday, with Mr Nefedov still requiring further treatment to heal the leg that was badly injured last week when he was struck by a speedboat propeller as he swam off Kata beach.

The couple's children, Ilya and Natalia, wrote to Phuketwan and Phuket's other English-language media, and remain concerned that the case was never really resolved.

The driver of speedboat 18 appears to have escaped paying compensation or even a reprimand for steering his wayward vessel into a group of Phuket swimmers in shallow water, seriously injuring one of them.

What happens next? ''The insurance company will send its own medical person from Moscow,'' the children wrote to Phuketwan from Russia.

''Our mom is planning to take the same plane as our dad, she's been told that they would buy her a ticket on the same plane, and she would have to pay for it herself.''

Acting on the advice of Phuketwan, Mrs Nefedov went to lodge a complaint with Phuket police.

''After writing a complaint to the police department, according to the words of our mom, she was told to bring the driver of the speedboat that hit our dad,'' wrote the children.

''Very weird request, isnt it? So it means that they even don't want to investigate the case.''

Police at Chalong in southern Phuket, which oversees Kata and several other well-known beaches, have a spreading reputation for finding excuses to not investigate complaints involving tourists or expat residents.

Similar lack of interest was expressed by Phuripat Theerakulpisut, Chief of Phuket's Marine Office 5, which oversees speedboats and jet-skis on Phuket. Khun Phuripat told Phuketwan that incidents of this kind were ''natural'' and did not warrant his intervention.

Left in limbo by the distressing affair is Phuket International Hospital, where there's an unpaid bill for the initial emergency treatment for Mr Nefedov.

When the hospital discovered that the couple's holiday insurance policy involved only one hospital, Vachira Phuket in Phuket City, nurses had no choice but to transfer him there immediately.

The issue of Russian travel insurance firms specifying which hospitals can treat their customers is likely to cause widespread concern among all Phuket hospitals, especially Vachira Phuket, Phuket's largest public hospital.

If all Russian tour visitors have to be treated at Vachira Phuket, Phuket's public hospital with the largest number of patients - and the lowest costs - is likely to be stressed beyond its already-stressed capacity.

Among the questions that remain unanswered are: who pays the unpaid bill for emergency treatment at Phuket International Hospital? Who pays for Mrs Nefedov's flight home with her husband?

We can tell you who won't be paying, and who shows no interest in who does pay: the cowboy driver of speedboat 18 at Kata beach, Khun Phuripat from Marine Office 5, and the police at Phuket's Chalong station.

''Local authorites really have to take any action to make sure similar accidents do not happen no more on Phuket island,'' the couple's children wrote.

Given the mess left behind for the entire Phuket tourism industry by lack of action in this case, Phuketwan couldn't agree more.

The one positive coming from this incident is that the lack of responsibility taken by the driver and the authorities involved has ended forever any debate about whether the speedboats and the jet-skis should be allowed to continue to operate on Phuket's beaches.

The only choice now is whether they are banned entirely from Phuket, as they already are in the neighboring provinces of Krabi and Phang Nga, or whether a compromise should enable them to operate more safely from offshore pontoons.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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This is just a theory, but might he have injured his leg falling over himself at the quality of Thai women compared to Russian ones?

Posted by Phalanx on December 11, 2011 16:25

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Phalanx, What a strange comment to make period. Let alone in response to an article such as this. I would also think that your bigoted comment is a matter of perspective. What qualities are you comparing? Compassion, education, social awareness, loyalty or only external factors? Are you comparing all Russian Women and all Thai women or only certain Russian Women with a certain Thai female demographic? Sorry, more analysis than such a thoughtless comment deserves.

I wonder what the local authorities would think this accident was if it happened to him or one of his relatives. Reading all the incompetence, negligence and graft (this case, 12 year olds in bars, jet skis, tuk-tuk beatings, etc.) is frustrating and depressing. I can only imagine what it must be like to have to write and comment on it everyday. Plus dealing with comments like the above. Appreciate your efforts, editor.

Posted by Martin on December 11, 2011 16:45

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For how a long time the Consuls and Ambassadors have been trying to get things changed here but to no avail. The authorities just don't care. Providing tourists keep coming and spending, then why change anything?

It's obvious from their lack of actions that it's fine if a few tourists die, get run over, beaten and scammed. That's life in Thailand - it's how the system works. Why care, providing you get yours, under the table?

It has to and no doubt will come to an end. They'll end up destroying tourism, and it well on it's way.

Posted by Graham on December 11, 2011 17:19

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@ Graham

Spot on.

Bottom line is the local authorities really don't give a damn what happens to tourists or expats alike. All that matters is money.

With passenger numbers constantly on the rise, they have no reason to believe their inaction and indifference has any ill effect on the cash flow.

Only when money stops coming will they consider what minimal action to take to restore it. All the consuls get is window dressing.

Posted by Steve C. on December 11, 2011 19:23

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But it's the tourist's fault - if he hadn't been here the 'accident' wouldn't have happened, just as with vehicle accidents. Bad tourist, go home!! (I'd just like to point out that this is the typical apatheic attitude of 'authorities' here, not mine!)

Posted by Mister Ree on December 11, 2011 20:19

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Graham, I'd be interested to know how the behavior of Phuket people is "well on its way" to "destroying" tourism in Phuket. How is tourism being destroyed when Phuket is booming and visitor numbers at the airport are increasing every month and are at record levels in 2011, being millions of people more than any other year in history? Phuket has never been growing so fast.

Posted by Hieronymous on December 11, 2011 20:28

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Sanyo is leaving Thailand, WD is rebuilding destroyed production lines not in Thailand but in Malaysia. Who gives a thought about an accident in Phuket, where millions of tourists come anyway. A tourist from Ekaterinburg. What will happen? The downside of doing nothing: A little blabla on english maybe russian spoken websites (the usual suspects...) and then the next thing will be running through the street. Khun Whocares is right. Why waste time on natural accidents. Nothing will be better for the one who tries to change a thing, more likely he will loose a lot. For what? A tourist from Ekaterinburg, Sverdlovskaya Oblast, next to Kazakhstan? Who is so crazy? The upside of doing "nothing"? [moderated by myself]

Posted by Lena on December 12, 2011 03:29

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A similar thing happened to me yesterday at Kata Beach. I was swimming close to the shore when I nearly got run over by the same powerboat. The guy was doing some fast turns to impress his mates. When I shouted to him he manoeuvered his boat between me and the beach, then he attempted to whip me with a coil of rope...!! Shouting You die Thailand!
I couldn't believe what was happening. I attempted to make a complaint to the police, but they weren't interested. They even sniggered.
It has ruined my holiday. How on earth can the authorities allow this kind of behavior?

Posted by Mark Smith on December 15, 2011 16:22


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