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A Russian woman is saved from the sea at Karon this afternoon

Phuket Tourist Drowns at Karon: No Lifeguards on Phuket's Beaches

Friday, May 18, 2012
PHUKET: A 53-year-old French tourist drowned in surf off Phuket's west coast Karon beach this afternoon, according to police. The man's wife is said to be still in shock, unable to speak to officers.

Two other tourists had to be rescued from Karon beach this afternoon, said Colonel Boonlert On-Kang of Chalong Police Station, which oversees southern Phuket and Kata and Karon on Phuket's holiday west coast.

The drowning comes with no lifeguards on any of Phuket's west coast beaches because of the requirements of local authorities to renegotiate the terms of the lifeguard contract each year.

The Frenchman's death is likely to raise concern among Phuket's honorary consuls, whose duty it is to look after the safety and security of tourists.

Lifeguards have not been on Phuket's beaches since April 7.

This time of the year, when monsoon ''rips'' form at beaches, is considered to be the most dangerous - even though some brochures like to suggest that Phuket in the low season is ''summer.''

Karon beach has claimed more lives of tourists on Phuket in recent years than any other beach.

The man's body is at Patong Hospital, Colonel Boonlert said, but police have been unable to interview his wife because she is grieving deeply.

The Phuket Lifeguard Service hopes a deal can be done in the next few days so they can be back on the beaches as early as Tuesday, after an absence of six weeks.

Water safety experts have called for a change to the system on Phuket so that the holiday island, which aims to be a year-round beach destination, can provide lifeguards year-round.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


And so while the officials bicker about money and the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor), cannot pay for a decent service, this Frenchman pays for a swim with his life. How tragic but he will just be the first this year.

Posted by Graham on May 18, 2012 17:19


Calling it summer is of course ridiculous, but so is calling the low season the "green season" like some people insist on doing. Yes, if you are a nature lover and want to go deep into the jungle at Khao Sok National Park and marvel at the rain forest at it's wettest the "green season" might be an apt name, but anybody wanting to enjoy a more traditional holiday will not appreciate the name change. Golf? No. Beach? No. Diving? No. Snorkeling? No. Any kind of boat trip? Often very dangerous, so should also be a "No". Power outages? Yes. Higher risk of electrocution, sometimes just sitting on the side walk? Yes. Storms and lashing rain that you never could imagine? Yes. Dangerous brown water with rip currents? Yes. And so on

Posted by christian on May 18, 2012 17:23


I saw this happen. Tourists and beach vendors had to put their lives at risk and try to rescue him from the sea and try to revive him. I couldn't see a single red flag either!! My heart goes out to his wife and friends who were there.

Posted by Paul on May 18, 2012 17:38


its very sad.. and we know theres a lot more to come unfortunately... we really need more lifeguards.. make it happen who ever is in charge!

Posted by poppops on May 18, 2012 18:01


Ahhhh - comment blocked yet again. Well done Mr Ed for allowing both sides of an equation to be explored. I eagerly await your response and next bit of vitriole when comments don't suit your agenda. Very Stalinistic.

Posted by Mister Ree on May 18, 2012 21:39

Editor Comment:

Perhaps you're confused, Mister Ree. none of your comments have been blocked for a very long time. You haven't offered a previous comment on this thread.


The same happened last year, why isn't the life guard contract renegotiated three months before it expires? Unpatrolled beaches right at the time when the surf starts rolling each year, are tourists' Phukets priority . . . yet it dosen't seem so!

Posted by coxo on May 19, 2012 07:02


A quote from a local forum.

"Well perhaps they read this and confused Karon with Kata" ( easy to do ) if they booked their trip through here:
"Kata remains a paradise all year round and the sea is swimmable at all times making it an ideal destination for families."

This is an out and out lie and gives testament to the fact tourism is all about money, the clients safety is of no concern whatsoever.
The promotion of Phuket as a world class beach destination forgetting to mention, there are NO lifeguards, is criminal.

Posted by innocent bystander on May 19, 2012 09:17

Editor Comment:

Resorts that promote Phuket as a year-round beach holiday destination have a duty of care. Those tourists who come during the low season are usually desperate to swim because that's what they paid their money to come to Phuket to do. The tsunami alert is an opportunity for local officials to make the most of the moment and oblige all airlines travelling to Phuket to screen a video as each flight descends warning of the (unlikely) possibility of a tsunami . . . and the seasonal hazards of dangers in the water that are not going to go away. Every resort check-in should include a brief word about the need for caution at the beaches. And yes, a beach holiday destination without lifeguards is not really a beach holiday destination.


I agree Ed, at check in every visitor should be given a notice explaining the hazards of swimming in the area and some stats on how many people have died swimming on Phuket in the last few years. Couldn't be that hard could it? I know it's not going to solve the problem altogether but surely it would help.

Posted by Pete on May 19, 2012 13:34


Rip current was v strong & fast on the same day & time, it can be longer. I (Japanese woman, 162cm high) cried for help and was rescued by a tall Russian tourist, if he were not nearby... Still suffering from after effects. Please do not enter the sea, even if there is no red flag???

Posted by Yoko on May 21, 2012 12:25


"Kata remains a paradise all year round and the sea is swimmable at all times making it an ideal destination for families"
PW, it looks like you have local readers! The 'thing' got deleted, but google has it still cached (~7am, today)

Posted by ??? on May 22, 2012 06:47

Thursday April 18, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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