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Phuket visitors from non-swimming countries require greater protection

Racha Island Day-Trips from Phuket Drown Too Many Tourists, Statistics Show

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
PHUKET: The number of drownings increased on Phuket last year, figures from the Public Health office on the international holiday island reveal in advance of a World Health Organisation seminar, with a day-trip island especially deadly.

Phuket Public Health statistics reveal 25 drownings on Phuket in 2013 compared to 19 in 2012, according to the department. Seven of those deaths came off Racha island, a snorkelling day-trip destination especially popular with Chinese.

The figures are incomplete because they include only drownings recorded at Phuket's three public hospitals, not those recorded at Phuket's private hospitals.

Phuketwan believes the number of drownings reached about 35 in the Phuket region last year, the largest total in recent memory.

Public Health figures give a detailed breakdown of the available statistics.

In 2012, drownings occurred at the following places: Karon beach one; Racha island three; Hey island three; Mudong Canal two; Nai Harn three; Patong two; swimming pools four; ponds one.

In 2013, drownings occurred at the following places: Karon beach three; Racha four; Kata beach one; Nai Harn one; Patong two; Phi Phi one; Cape Promthep one; Nai Thon one; Chalong Bay one; Unlocated one; swimming pools four; ponds five.

No statistics are available for 2014 yet but on reports to Phuketwan the number is likely to be lower than in 2013.

At the invitation of the World Health Organisation, Phuketwan reporter Chutima Sidasathian joins a seminar in Bangkok on Friday on drownings.

The seminar comes in advance of the first WHO global report on drowning, due to be released in Geneva in November.

One of the organisers, Dr David Meddings, said: ''Our overarching objective is to promote more analytical media coverage of drowning.''

What Khun Chutima will be able to report is that the increase in the number of Chinese and Russian tourists to Phuket was accompanied by an increase in drownings.

Local authorities were ill-prepared to deal with more visitors from non-swimming countries. Previously, most visitors to Phuket had been from Europe or Australia, where the majority of people learn how to swim.

Day-trip speedboat crews, used to relaxing while their passengers frolicked in the water, had never been properly trained to act as lifeguards.

The result: an increased number of needless deaths.

The recently-departed governor of Phuket undertook to correct the matter but it is believed the 30,000 baht a month needed to fund lifeguards at Racha island has yet to be found.

While beaches and day-trip outings claim most lives through drownings on Phuket, ponds and canals are the greatest hazard for poor swimmers throughout Thailand and many other parts of Asia.

According to WHO, ''drowning is a serious and neglected public health threat claiming the lives of 372,000 people a year worldwide.

''This death toll is almost two thirds that of malnutrition and well over half that of malaria - but unlike these public health challenges, there are no broad prevention efforts that target drowning.

''More than 90 percent of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

''The Global Report on Drowning is the first World Health Organisation report dedicated exclusively to drowning and will be launched November 18.''

Khun Chutima will be reporting what she learns at Friday's seminar to readers at Phuketwan.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Thailand should build more public pools and make swimming part of basic education as in developed countries. In Phuket it is particularly easy because in low season there are many unused pools that could be rented.

Posted by Earmuffs on October 8, 2014 11:38

Editor Comment:

Yes, but can teaching Thai children to swim save Chinese tourists from drowning?

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Well, a few facts of this seminar are now named and clear. So, action now!
1: Now more non-swimmer tourists ( Chinese, Russian tourists)
2: Day-trip boat crews need training to understand and handle non swimming tourist.
3: day time life guards on boat day-trip destinations. ( life guards lift with the first day-trip boat to destination, and return with last day-trip boat.
Phuket beaches are safe as long tourist obey the information/instructions of the life guards. When a whole beach is 'flagging RED', than it is the personal responsibility of the tourist when he goes into the water. ( I see almost daily the careless of adult tourists in on the Phuket beaches).

Posted by Kurt on October 8, 2014 12:08

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This is no revelation to Phuket wan readers only to the public health office apparently whom are suddenly shocked at the over representation of deaths by drowning @earmuffs shouldn't that read the soviet union & china should build more public pools because there the victims.

Posted by slickmelb on October 8, 2014 17:15


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