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Flags fly at Naiharn beach, one of Phuket's popular swimming destinations

Phuket Drowning Toll Rises to 'At Least 30' in 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009
AT LEAST 30 people have drowned on Phuket or in Phuket waters in the first six months of 2009, more than the fatalities for the whole of 2007, Public Health records show.

Official figures from the Public Health department show there were 24 drownings recorded between January 1 and May 31 this year.

Phuketwan is aware of at least six more drownings in June, making the total at least 30 to the half-way mark of the year.

This alarming tally compares with 26 drownings recorded for all of 2007 and a tally of 20 up to the end of September, 2008.

The figures for 2009 so far, month by month: January 2; February 3; March 12; April 4; May 3; June 6, perhaps more.

The March figure includes seven deaths in a single mishap, the Dive Asia sinking, a tragedy that raised questions about safety and protection on the water around Phuket.

Numbers registering for this month's professional course on water rescue from July 6-8 are down on expectations, lifting concerns that some Phuket resorts may have cut budgets for safety training.

The island's second annual Surf Lifesaving Carnival, scheduled for July 11-12, is also suffering from a reduction in international interest this year.

A rising toll lends support to those who argue that if Phuket is to be promoted as a year-round holiday destination, greater protection and attention to safety must be provided.

Most people come to Phuket for beach holidays or water sports. If they are to be encouraged to visit in the more dangerous Summer monsoon season, then safety is a prime concern.

People connected with water safety are hoping the newly-introduced lifeguard system at 12 popular beaches reduces the number of drownings in the second half of the year, and future years.

But the quality of training will only become evident if the number of needless drownings can be dramatically reduced from July to December.

The senior police officer investigating the dive boat tragedy told Phuketwan that almost three months on, he is still awaiting detailed information about the weather conditions at the time of the sinking.

It remains unclear why the almost-new vessel sank in a sudden squall; why there was no warning and no May Day alert, and why no aerial search was mounted for the 23 survivors.

They spent more than 12 hours on liferafts within 20 kilometres of Patong and eventually had to arrange their own rescue.

Cases where people required a stay in hospital over mishaps in the water totalled 56 to the end of May.

On Phuket's roads, Public Health recorded 73 deaths to the end of May, with 6404 people injured. The May total of 18 deaths was the worst monthly figure for the year so far.

There were 136 road deaths on Phuket in 2008, a dramatic decrease from more than 200 in 2007.

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


If sufficient resources cannot be found to make the beaches safe during "Summer Season", then maybe the term "Summer Season", should be dropped and the less euphemistic "Green Season" brought back into use.

For Europeans, the word "Summer" has strong connotations of beaches and a benign Mother Nature.

Posted by Sir Burr on July 4, 2009 11:03


Yeah, the "Summer Season" idea was always a bit goofy.

"Summer" connotes so many different things: a time of year, a type of weather, a collection of activities, etc. Maybe that was the whole intention.

But since only a small subset of those connotations really apply, the label is misleading, making the intentional promotion of the label a bit dishonest.

"Green Season" was so much better.

Posted by D on July 4, 2009 12:58

Thursday June 20, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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