PHUKET: Phuket diving instructor Denis Lipatov died on Saturday while speafishing off Racha Noi island, a friend said today.
''He went in with a speargun and disappeared,'' the friend said. ''An hour later, they found his body.''
Mr Lipatov, 39, a Russian, had been running Sedoff excursions for about a decade, the friend said, using rented boats and working as a qualified PADI diving instructor.
''He had recently discovered free diving,'' the friend said. ''So he could have tried to go too deep or simply blacked out underwater because of some other medical condition.''
It was Mr Lipatov's day off and he was enjoying an outing with friends off Racha Noi, which sits with Racha Yai about 40 minutes south of Phuket by speedboat.
Earlier reports incorrectly attributed Mr Lipatov's death to a drowning while swimming.
PHUKET: A Russian man has become the latest person to drown at Racha island, a popular holiday spot off Phuket.
Officers from Phuket's Chalong Police Station went with Ruamjai Phuket Foundation paramedics took the short speedboat trip to Racha about 6.45pm.
They were told that the man, named as Denis Lipatov, 39, ignored red flags and two-metre high waves to swim.
Local beach guards pulled Mr Lipatov from the water after he got into difficulties but were unable to revive him.
At first thought to be a tourist, Mr Lipatov was later reported by a Phuket dive shop owner to be a PADI Instructor who had a dive business in Phuket for more than 10 years.
''For many years he was bringing us a lot of Russians for buying diving equipment, dive training and divers for fun dives,'' said the shop owner, who prefers to remain anonymous.
Mr Lipatov occasionally bent the rules, the shop owner said, in taking beginners on deeper dives.
He is believed to be the 26th person to drown on Phuket's beaches so far this year. Most of the recent victims at Racha have been Chinese visitors.
An increase in the number of tourists who have drowned so far on Phuket in 2013 is being attributed to an increase in the number of visitors from countries where water safety is not well understood and people are not strong swimmers.
Phuket's lifeguards and expat water experts say a more comprehensive warning system is required to deter people from swimming on days when its too dangerous.
Phuket's Public Health department stopped issuing monthly updates on the tally of drownings and road toll victims in April 2012 and have yet to provide the annual figures for last year.