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Night swimmers gather as efforts are made to revive the tourist last night

Phuket's Drowning Toll: Chinese Visitor Dies on Night Swim at Patong

Sunday, July 1, 2012
PHUKET: A 19-year-old Chinese tourist drowned while swimming off Patong beach on Phuket last night despite rescuers' efforts to find him and save him.

A female tourist sounded the alarm on the famous west coast beach about 8.30pm last night. A jet-ski headed out, found the man after a short, desperate search, and brought him back to the beach, where tourists performed cpr in vain.

He was named as Tinqi Li, and he became the seventh tourist drowning on Phuket beaches since May 18 - an alarming number for a year-round beach holiday destination.

He was the second young tourist to drown in that period while swimming on Patong beach at night. American Joshua Shane, 21, drowned during a night swim on June 12.

Phuketwan and water safety experts have called for greater commitment by resorts and local authorities to end the needless drownings. Warning signs in Chinese are rare at Phuket beaches, where the monsoon season brings dangerous ''rip'' currents.

Holidaymakers who come to Phuket for a beach break are often unaware that the sea can be deadly at this time of year - and many resorts are reluctant to tell them in person on check-in, even though a few simple words in the appropriate language would save many lives.

Some Phuket tourism authorities view the drownings as ''natural,'' others would prefer if the tourists were always blamed. More astute authorities understand the need for prevention and are pressing for resorts to behave more responsibly.

Phuket's lifeguards are overwhelmed by the number of tourists who choose to swim even when red warning flags are flying. They say they need the help of resorts and authorities to make sure swimmers realise their lives are at risk.

One resort where guests are warned about swimming on the beaches suggests that guests are told on check-in: ''We've got a great swimming pool here. Please use it. Swim at the beach when the red flags are flying, and you'll die.''

Unless a more responsible attitude prevails, visitors are not likely to come to Phuket for beach holidays in May and June.

Drownings on Phuket May 18-June 30

June 30 Chinese tourist Tinqi Li, 19, drowns while swimming at night at Patong. A jet-ski rider finds him and pulls him back to shore but cpr fails to revive him.

June 19 Unidentified Western man drowns at Nai Harn as red flags fly. Two Chinese tourists, a man and a woman, are rescued. The man is later identified as Rasmus Beyemann, 72, a Dane who had been living on Phuket for five years.

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 is 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 drownings on Phuket between May 18 and June 30 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.


The Phuketwan reporting is so slanted it is beyond reproach.

This is a case of a young thrill seeker swimming in the ocean AT NIGHT!

I doubt any level of warning would have stopped them - common sense should have been the stop gap.

To once again blame the resorts and tourism authorities for this drowning is laughable on the part of the reporter.

The seas during the day light hours right now are NOT deadly as the article suggests.

If you are reading this and thinking about not coming to Phuket due to the DEADLY seas, think again.

Common sense and following the advise of the lifeguards is all you need to do to enjoy the sea around Phuket.

Posted by Bill on July 1, 2012 10:30

Editor Comment:

Resorts entice holidaymakers to Phuket during the dangerous monsoon season. Then the tourists suddenly find, as they try to swim, that they have been misinformed. You may kid yourself, Bill, but don't try to kid us. We've talked to the family and friends of the drowned. We know the causes and the solutions. It's not darkness that makes Phuket's beaches more dangerous at night. It's the same problem in daylight - lack of appropriate warnings by the people who entice the tourists here under false pretences. (By the way, you need to look up the meaning of 'beyond reproach.' Best not to use terms you don't understand.)


These 'night' drownings occur when lifeguards are not on duty, and the beaches are not crowded with tourists who could rapidly raise the alarm.

Perhaps a large warning sign in all languages 'Warning, dangerous thieves on this beach at night' might deter those who want to swim after dark


Posted by Simon Luttrell on July 1, 2012 10:32

Editor Comment:

Rather than make light of a succession of preventable tragedies, Simon, please tell us what warnings do you give arriving holidaymakers at your establishments.


Rather than make light of a succession of preventable tragedies ...

Ed, I was actually speaking with all seriousness. At night there are no lifeguards to warn of the dangers of swimming. It seems that many tourists ignore the 'no swimming/rip current' signs. But would they ignore a sign which cautions them that they may be mugged or robbed if they go down to the beach at night? I think not.

What warnings do I give to my hotel guests? Belief me or not, I do ask all arriving guests where they will be staying next, and I warn them about the danger of rip currents and need to listen to the advice of the lifeguards. I also advise warn them about the dangers of the tuk-tuks and black taxis.

Depending on your take about travel warnings, I'm doing no favours to the Thai Tourist Authorities by speaking out to my guests. But I'd rather tell them the honest truth and hopefully greet them as returning guests, rather than reading about their demise in the sea or treatment in the hospital...


Posted by Simon Luttrell on July 1, 2012 11:06

Editor Comment:

Phuket needs more signage like a hole in the head. The way to warn tourists about beach dangers is to make it compulsory for the danger to be mentioned on descending flights and compulsory for resorts to mention it at check-in - in the appropriate language


If professional brochures about the nature of the sea, transportation etc. were available I would display them on my reception counter, and I am sure that most hotels would be happy to do the same.
Guests are stressed and tired when they arrive, they want to go straight to their rooms and relax.
At check in they are not interested in listening to endless warnings about swimming, tuk-tuks and other potential problems, and the receptionist's English might be to poor to explain these things.
Therefore brochures is needed.

Posted by Niku on July 1, 2012 13:58

Editor Comment:

Brochures or back-of-the-door warnings are a waste of time. What's needed is a direct verbal warning - in the appropriate language - by a real, live person at check-in. We interviewed survivors who arrived and went for a swim immediately at Karon in the early evening. If there had been a verbal warning, their first hour on Phuket might not have been marred by a death. Brochures are a cop-out. There are too many brochures. If you've attracted guests from China, Russia, Rumania etc to be responsible, the verbal warning must be immediate and it must be in their language. Another brochure at reception? You must be kidding.


dont they have such a line with bouys on it, which splits the dangerous part of the sea from the safe area to swim at?

Posted by me on July 1, 2012 14:51

Editor Comment:



Frankly I think what can be done by hotels have already been done. Hotel staff have been briefed to warn guests about the sea conditions and to heed the flag warnings as part of their introduction to the hotel - yes a lot of information is given at that point in time, resort map, restaurants, facilities, breakfast hours, happy hours and oh by the way, beach warning. Most guest barely listen during check-in. They just want to get to their room after a long flight. So we also put printed warnings out in the rooms incase they missed it during introduction in a variety of languages.
Travel agents we speak to have also done their homework and their part in warning guests. a large chinese web agent gave clear instructions that the guest is always to be aware of sea conditions before going in and to always heed the warnings by local authorities. Flag colours are explained clearly in their language.
Monsoon periods are also clearly indicated in another Aussie travel agent's website and guests are once again told to be careful of conditions and advised to heed warnings.
But sometimes there is really nothing you can do, when the sky is so perfectly blue, the seas perfectly calm on the surface, the guest just don't believe the lifeguard who told them that the sea is dangerous and refused to heed the warning not to get in. What really can you do then?

Posted by May on July 1, 2012 15:34

Editor Comment:

The answer to your question is: A bit more. It's people's lives you are talking about. It's also possible you are speaking on behalf of one hotel and imagining that other hotels do the same. What you can do is make sure that all resorts behave responsibly. We know for a fact that it's not the case. It also wouldn't hurt to have a prominent warning trolley in the doorway headed 'Today's Beach conditions' with the capacity to change the flag color from red NO SWIM to yellow SWIM WITH CAUTION to green SWIM. We repeat: not enough is being done to save lives. Repetitive warnings are the answer - short of closing Phuket's beaches. And if there were that number of drownings on a similar stretch of beaches in Australia in a short period, that's what would happen. Australian visitors are among the least likely to drown. But on occasions, they still do.


Close the beaches is a very good idea. Who will enforce this?
There are not enough police on the island to do proper police work, let along go running up and down the beaches to warn people off.
One suggestion sounded good, but elaborate it to make lines of bouys anchored out to sea and spread them 25 meters apart, in a designated swimming area. Then the people can return from the sea with their proper names, instead of being called," Bob".

Posted by DunB on July 1, 2012 16:16

Editor Comment:

Fixed rips are usually in the same place but moveable rips do just that, so the buoys may one day be over the place they are not meant to be over . . . Too much work for the lifeguards, which is why it's time for airlines, resorts and local authorities to stop pointing fingers and accept joint responsibility. And when the monsoons arrive next May, the lifeguards need volunteers to reinforce the message at resorts and on the beaches. Or close them.


Dear Ed, I do not kidding about brochures. Here is some reasons why.
- A very few receptionists speak all Chinese dialects, Russian, Rumanian etc.
- Guests do not want to listen to common information at check in.
- The top of the check in counter in most hotels are not loaded with brochure stands, so the right illustration will catch attention.
- On request tourists will pick up a brochure in their own language and read it when they have time.

Posted by Niku on July 1, 2012 17:28

Editor Comment:

As we've said, Niku, some tourists have gone straight to the beach after check-in and drowned. Life and death issues are not ''common information.'' Resorts that bring people to Phuket in ''the drowning season'' have an obligation to inform them directly, indirectly, and on a daily basis as sea conditions change. If you are bringing groups from individual countries, it's your responsibility to make sure those people are warned in their native tongue. To have brochures for people to read ''when they have time'' is a cop-out.


Ed... it is a practical idea that all resorts should properly inform each guest arriving. But the fact of the matter is that Hotels and Resorts, in the mainstay, won't do it. It would be tantamount to them saying Phuket is not safe this time of year in the waters (which it is not) but that would mean driving visitors away which means a serious drop income.

You can say all you like, but the truth is Phuket is nearing, if not arrived at, a breaking point where tourists will avoid the place because of the lack of care.

If the Tourism Authorities cared one iota they would make it compulsory for Hotels and Resorts to warn all guest - but this such a poor track-record of implementing anything remotely to aid the tourists, this is unlikely to ever happen.

Posted by Graham on July 1, 2012 18:05


What about the people who not travel in groups, there is actually a lot of them.
Tourists who just arrive to a hotel and book a room for a few nights. How can they be informed in their own language?
PS. Last words in this debate from me.

Posted by Niku on July 1, 2012 18:17

Editor Comment:

Independent travellers have usually done more research and are less reliant on ''team leaders'' to do their thinking for them. I agree, smaller places have greater difficulty in complying. Perhaps Club Med could record warnings in the 35 languages of its staff members, and make them available to all other resorts? ''Oh, you're from Transylvania? Hang on while I press this button . . . ''


I commend the tourists who attempted CPR. Trying to revive a dead person is a very traumatic thing.

Posted by Joe on July 1, 2012 22:00

Wednesday September 22, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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