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The drowned man's body arrives at Vachira Phuket Hospital today

Phuket Tourist Drowns as Two Are Rescued: Phuket Beach Death Toll Soars

Tuesday, June 19, 2012
PHUKET: One tourist drowned and two others were rescued at a Phuket beach today by lifeguards who had to make life-and-death choices.

It was the seventh swimming holiday death at Phuket beaches since May 18 - six of them confirmed drownings - in just a month and one day.

About 3pm today at Nai Harn, Phuket's most southerly beach, three tourists in the water began calling for help at the same time.

The three lifeguards on duty at the western end of the beach plunged into the surf close to the Yacht Club resort, pulling a Chinese man and woman safely to shore.

The lifeguards figured that the Chinese were less likely to be able to swim well, one of them told Phuketwan afterwards.

The third person, a heavy-set Western man aged about 60, was still breathing when a lifeguard pulled him ashore. On the beach, he was given oxygen and cpr. He died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital in Phuket City.

Red no-swim flags were flying at the time of the man's death, lifeguards said.

Deadly monsoon season ''rips'' - currents that pull swimmers out to sea - are evident at most Phuket beaches at this time of the year.

Six drownings in a month and a day is evidence - if evidence in the form of deaths was needed - that more must be done to prevent tourists swimming to their doom.

A Phuket newspaper's online poll currently asks what Phuket needs to do to stop the drownings and offers the following choices: Assign more lifeguards to beaches; Provide lifeguards with jet-skis, better safety equipment; Have inbound flight captains issue safety warnings about surf conditions; Give lifeguards police support to remove from the beach swimmers who refuse to obey lifeguard warnings against swimming in red-flagged danger areas; Install more warning signs in more languages; Encourage hotel staff to do more to warn of the dangers.

The correct answer after so many needless deaths is ''All of the Above.''

Phuketwan advocates a multi-tiered series of warnings beginning as all flights descend to Phuket, continuing directly in person verbally at every resort check-in, and reinforced by lifeguards blowing whistles to back up signs and flags at all Phuket beaches.

The death of Joshua Shane, 21, a young American student, remains controversial with a spokesperson for the Arizona State University insisting the touring party of 20 were warned about the dangers of swimming at Phuket's beaches.

Joshua Shane was in a small group that went swimming in darkness early last week at Patong. He was lost in the surf. Another student required hospital treatment.

''Students were warned by Study Abroad program leaders that they should not swim in the ocean in Phuket because of dangerous rip tides,'' spokesperson Julie Newberg emailed from Arizona State.

''This included a firm warning in a formal group presentation the morning before boarding the plane to Phuket and in an announcement over the loud speaker on the bus from the Phuket airport to the Phuket hotel. In both cases, all students were present.''

The nationality of today's drowning victim is not known at this stage. His body was taken by ambulance to Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket City.

Drownings on Phuket May 18-June 19

June 19 Unidentified Western man aged about 60 drowns at Nai Harn as red flags fly. Two Chinese tourists, a man and a woman, are rescued.

June 12 American university student Joshua Shane, 21, goes missing at Patong on a late-night swim with friends. His body is found on June 14. Another swimmer requires hospital treatment.

June 8 A tourist from Egypt and a tourist from Kuwait, visiting Phuket, go on a whitewater adventure tour north of Phuket with friends. The friends are rescued when a monsoon-boosted stream overturns their raft. The two men drown.

June 2 A young Thai visitor from Bangkok, Austatiwood Prommarat, 18, disappears into the surf at Patong after he and a relative allegedly hang their shirts on a warning red flag before going into the water. The relative is rescued.

May 31 An American kite surfer collapses in the shallows at Nai Harn, Phuket's most southerly beach, and dies soon after. His death may not have been a drowning but possibly a heart attack.

May 30 Russian tourist Denis Korobogatov, 33, appears to be caught by a ''rip'' tide at Karon beach and dragged to his death.

May 27 Phuket's lifeguards, absent from Phuket beaches for seven weeks because of a contractual dispute, return to daily patrols of Phuket's 13 most popular west coast beaches.

May 20 On a day's outing to difficult-to-access Freedom Beach, between Patong and Karon, Frenchman Stephane Dacosta, 32, disappears into the water. He washes ashore at nearby Kata beach a day later.

May 18 With lifeguards absent from all of Phuket's beaches, Angelo Piazza, 53, disappears into the surf at Karon beach, south of Patong, and drowns.

The figure of seven beach deaths on Phuket between May 18 and June 19 contrasts with just five drownings recorded for the whole of Phuket - including deaths in ponds and canals as well as beaches - in the first four months of the year.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


This also shows the need for a new hospital in Chalong as was reported this week, as so many people die in transit caused by the gridlock traffic on Phuket now adding valuable time to getting people to Phuket City hospitals.

Posted by rich on June 19, 2012 22:01


I agree entirely with the suggestion made by Phuketwan to improve beach safety. However, there's no helping some individuals that refuse to accept good advice - like the tourists I witnessed last week on Surin Beach, waving back to a lifeguard who had pulled up a red flag and was waving it at them, and shouting for them to return to shore. They completely ignored him. What do you do with people like that? Even if the police had the powers to intervene, by the time they turned up it would probably be too late.

Posted by agogohome on June 19, 2012 22:18


What about imposing those that make money out of renting beach chairs to employ 1 lifeguard every 100 metres of beach front?

Posted by Marc on June 20, 2012 10:10


Ed., it is nice of you to put so much effort in making authorities aware of the problem concerning tourist safety while swimming during monsoon season. However, I agreee with agogohome. Some people completely ignore the warnings and being myself one of them, I can only say "... you can challenge the Everest if you are a climber. If you are not, just stay where you are ... ". Once warned, we are responsible of our own actions.

Posted by cekipa on June 20, 2012 11:41

Editor Comment:

Those who drown are unable to tell us whether they were adequately warned or not. From what I've seen, the answer is: the warnings are nowhere near intense enough. If people are persuaded to Phuket for beach holidays, it's not difficult to understand why they want to get their money's worth. Serious efforts have to be made by every resort to save the lives of the people they welcome as guests in the monsoon season.


I cannot help wondering why people who would not ignore a life guards warning in there own country feel free to do so in Phuket.

Posted by Arthur on June 21, 2012 17:49


Good point Ed. Today, I was in Nai Harn at 7:00. High tide and big waves. Coming from Laem Promthep passing through the road near the temple then turning left, you can access the beach without a single warning sign. At that time, no flags were in place ('course I went swimming anyway ;-)

Posted by cekipa on June 21, 2012 18:20

Wednesday February 21, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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