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A woman ventures in at Phuket's Karon beach soon after a drowning

Phuket Tourist Missing at Karon Beach: Crisis Talks on Drownings

Friday, July 22, 2011
PHUKET: Karon beach will be closed to swimmers today as a search resumes for a Chinese tourist who vanished into the surf at Phuket's most notorious beach at dusk yesterday.

The man, aged 27, was believed to have been on holiday on Phuket, staying in a Karon resort with his family. A succession of drownings, especially at Karon beach, has plunged Phuket tourism into crisis.

With the Royal Thai Navy and Marine Police due to look for the man as bad weather swirled onto Phuket, lifeguards have opted to try to close the deadly Karon beach to all swimmers today.

If the Chinese tourist has drowned, he will be the twelth recorded drowning at Karon since April 2010 - an unacceptable number that probably makes Karon beach among the most deadly in the world, especially during the April-November monsoon season.

An emergency meeting has been called for Karon municipal council offices today. While Karon resorts are bound to be most damaged by the drownings, news reports being carried around the world bring Phuket's entire tourism industry into disrepute.

New warning signs have been erected at Karon and other popular west coast beaches since the drowning of an Australian earlier this month.

But many tourists who buy a beach holiday on Phuket in the off-season ignore signs and red-flag beach warnings to swim anyway. Some resorts warn their guests about the dangers at Phuket beaches at this time of the year. Others don't bother.

Phuket's lifeguards say that by the time the holidaymakers enter the water, it's too late. At that stage, it's difficult for lifeguards to dissuade them from swimming.

The death of Australian tourist Jennifer Laidley, 43, was an example of a holidaymaker who chose to swim knowing the risks, but most other victims have been non-Thai and non-English reading and speaking.

Because of today's bad weather and the second disappearance of a tourist this month, lifeguards will string cord between red flags along Karon beach today and hope that swimmers get the message.

Here is a timeline of Karon's - and Phuket's - tragic recent history:

July 7 Body of Australian tourist Jennifer Laidley, who disappeared while swimming at dusk two days earlier, washes up at Karon.

June 17 The life of Russian tourist Irina Tsyz, 24, ends in a hospital intensive care unit after she is rescued from surf at Naithon.

May 14 Chinese tourist Wei Fuo Thang, 32, is pulled from the surf at Karon beach, then collapses and dies.

May 2 Phuket lifeguards report an April free of drownings on Phuket's popular west coast beaches. Karon beach - considered the most dangerous Phuket beach and the one with the worst recent record - has doubled lifeguard stations to six, manned by 16 lifeguards, overseen by a supervisor and a captain.

February 28 Karon is Phuket's most deadly beach, with nine deaths reported there since April 2010 compared to a total of four deaths reported at other Phuket beaches.
Phuket Drowning: Aussie Calls for Improvements at Karon
Latest Back in Australia from the holiday on which a friend drowned, Australian Lisa Crosland believes the Karon community needs to lift its standards to save lives.
Phuket Drowning: Aussie Calls for Improvements at Karon

Phuket's Deadly Allure: Karon Beach Photo Special
Photo Album Nothing seems to deter holidaymakers determined to enjoy the surf on their beach holiday - even if the beach can be dangerous at the wrong time of the year.
Phuket's Deadly Allure: Karon Beach Photo Special

Phuket Lifeguards Plead: Please Help to Prevent Drownings
Latest More warnings are still needed to prevent tragic drownings at Phuket beaches, says Phuket's lifeguard leader after the tragic death of a Russian honeymooner.
Phuket Lifeguards Plead: Please Help to Prevent Drownings

Phuket Drowning, Rescues as Monsoon Dangers Loom
Latest More people need to learn to swim and to be careful in the waters on and off Phuket, a safety expert says after a young man drowns in a lagoon.
Phuket Drowning, Rescues as Monsoon Dangers Loom


Comments have been disabled for this article.


It's all about the red flags, many times do I see people ignore these clearly placed markers on the beach and swim outside the safe area. Do they ignore them because they are stupid ( BTW you can drown in an inch of water) or do they simply not understand the meaning. Regardless it's a tragedy for all.

Posted by TheCockneyRebel on July 22, 2011 09:41

Editor Comment:

It's not ''all about the red flags.'' Swimmers mostly ignore the red flags because they have been sold a beach holiday at a dangerous time of the year - and they are determined to enjoy their beach holiday. Some of them are non-English, non-Thai speaking, from places without beaches and red flags.


The problem is that in the West, a red flag means danger but in China, a red flag means a party, or a New Year's celebration. The Chinese tourists think there's a party in the water and all rush in.

Posted by Henry on July 22, 2011 12:14

Editor Comment:

A man is presumed to have drowned, one of 12 at Karon, and you find that humorous?


I like you humour Henry ! I disagree with editor way to answer each time ! editor are you going to give the opportunity to your readers to vote for the answers ! including yours ! you ll be surprise to see that your appreciation is not the majority one !!! do it that time and publish my comment coward !

Posted by not stupido on July 22, 2011 13:43

Editor Comment:

Dear not stupido, you fail to live up to your pseudonym. Next you'll be telling us that exclamation marks are compulsory after every sentence.


I find this very funny, another person dies because they are sold a holiday by the sea. Maybe TAT should market this time of year as " Eco Suicide" get you new life now. We have spoken enough, but we know the baht is bigger than the BUTT.
Swim on. No more sympathy.

Posted by Dun on July 22, 2011 14:33

Editor Comment:

Dun caring, eh? That's no surprise, coming from you.


Hi Ed. So you know me, cool. Lets get together for two bottles of 100Pipers and go the surf line and watch.
Oh don't forget your camera. Mines loaded and in video mode.

We can read about this every day, but will the drownings stop . . .I doubt it.
It is not my problem, mai pen rai krab. XXX

Posted by Dun on July 22, 2011 14:44


Talkie talkie talkie but can you do the walkie walkie walkie.
Empty words drown lives.

Posted by Robin on July 22, 2011 14:54

Editor Comment:

Another deeply impenetrable contribution to a better Phuket, Robin. It seems you are not going to make it as a poet, either.


Where does the implication, that a lot of the drowning victims didn't speak or were able to read English, come from? Did you talk to those people before?

Posted by Freddy2do on July 22, 2011 14:55

Editor Comment:

As the man involved drowned on his first day on holiday on Phuket, Freddy2do, we did not get the chance to talk to him. But we have talked to the honorary consul for China, and to relatives and friends of other victims from non-English speaking countries who were not warned in advance strongly enough in an appropriate fashion about swimming at Karon at this time of the year. How many Karon resorts carry multilingual warnings on their websites, Freddy2do? The information that they want guests to know - ''With its direct access to Karon Beach, xxxxxx offers a complete refuge for the most discerning sun worshippers'' - is all there, in English, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and German.

Where are the warnings?


Dear Editor: Did I say that I find the death humorous? No, I did not, but you suggested that, so I can only assume that you found either A) my comment or B) the death or C) both A) and B) to be humorous.

Posted by Henry on July 22, 2011 19:26

Editor Comment:

''A red flag means a party, or a New Year's celebration. The Chinese tourists think there's a party in the water and all rush in.''


"While Karon resorts are bound to be most damaged by the drownings ... "

Unfortunately, holiday-makers continue to ignore the warnings, which is why resorts should step up their efforts.

While they cannot harass or babysit guests, it is in their best interests to take more stringent measures to inform guests of the dangers of swimming on Karon Beach during Low Season.

More prominent multi-lingual warning signs around resorts and maybe on the back of the doors in guests' rooms might encourage holiday makers to think twice about going for a swim.

While this might detract from the appeal of Karon Beach, it will surely be less costly for business than continued drownings or the permanent closure of the beach for swimming during Low Season.

Posted by Roger on July 23, 2011 07:40


Maybe they should have one of the signs that say how many people have died on this beach. When people see the numbers, they may stop and question themselves before going in.

Posted by Tbs on July 23, 2011 09:16


Dear ed., I have no desire to check Karon Hotel websites if they have warnings or not. It's up to the hotels what they write on their sites. You spoke to the consul and family, but did they tell you that the victims were not able to read or speak a couple of words of English? To me, coming from a non-English speaking country, all these drownings are not because of a lack of knowledge of a language but pure ignorance or stupidity. I have visited over 35 different countries in my life, many of them non-English,and a couple with more dangerous surfs than Karon. Never had any problem to find out whether it was save to swim or not, even without the red flags out or warning signs.

Posted by Freddy2do on July 23, 2011 21:06

Editor Comment:

That's you, Freddy2do, not an average person who just wants to enjoy the beach holiday they have paid for, and who has probably never before been to another country. To suggest it's ''pure ignorance or stupidity'' is a measure of your own blinkered outlook. Your experience is irrelevant.

Friday January 27, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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