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Sign in English and Thai at Patong beach - but no Russian to be seen

French Tourist Fights For Life: Day of Disasters

Monday, October 18, 2010
Today's Updating Report

DOCTORS on Phuket were fighting to save the life of a French tourist who was pulled from the water at Patong beach this afternoon.

A rescue operation was also underway this afternoon at Nai Thon, also on Phuket's west coast, to save a Russian man. He was reported to have become stranded on rocks off the shore.

A second Russian man and a Russian woman were plucked from the sea at Karon, south of Patong, at 2pm and were recovering this afternoon in Patong Hospital.

In a third day of high drama on Phuket's beaches, a Frenchman, 64, was rescued at Patong, Phuket's most popular beach, about 3pm.

The Frenchman was taken to Patong Hospital, then transferred to Varicha Hospital in Phuket City, on the other side of the island, where doctors in the intensive care unit were fighting to save his life.

The three incidents today follow a weekend that saw two deaths at Phuket beaches and eight rescues on beaches at Nai Thon, Nai Harn, and Karon involving six Russians and two Germans.

A Russian tourist died at Surin, between Patong and Nai Thon, on Sunday, possibly of a heart attack in the sea.

Earlier in the day, the body of a seven-year-old boy who had drowned at a beach at Koh Sireh, east of Phuket City, was found by searchers.

Despite the spate of beach deaths and rescues, latest figures show the number of drownings on Phuket to the end of September has been almost cut in half.

However, the number of Russians involved over the past three days focuses attention on the comment of a lifeguard spokesperson, who said Russians were inclined to ignore red flags and safety warnings to swim on Phuket, regardless of the dangers.

Rescued from the surf today at Karon were Sergei Kochukov, 26, and Marina Bobyieva, 25.

Both were being kept under observation at Patong Hospital but doctors said they would quickly recover.

Russians have been coming to Phuket in rapidly increasing numbers. The Russian news agency, Tass, today reported the death of the Russian man at Surin.

It added that the Russian embassy in Bangkok declined to disclose the man's name because it ''will only draw unwarranted attention to the relatives.''

The Tass report concluded: ''The period from March to November is a low season in Phuket, when the weather is unfriendly, with stormy winds, strong currents near the coastline and lots of jellyfish.''
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Comments

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Well all I can say that if people ignore a red flag on the beach especially when the sea is rough, it's amazing how they have managed to survive for so many years.

Posted by Mac on October 18, 2010 18:46

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It's not the rough seas that is causing the drownings it's the presence of so many strong rip currents that pull people away from the beach. Getting caught in a rip causes many to panic and exhaust themselves fighting the current and drown. Education is the key here, in the hotels on the inbound flights anywhere where people can be alerted to the real dangers of Phuket beaches during the "Summer" (low) season

Posted by Bernie on October 18, 2010 21:58

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Exactly my point Bernie. Education. But for middle aged people? Some will not learn or listen to the wise words of people who have more common sense. It's most likely that almost everyone knows what a red flag is for and if someone ignores it, they are just plain stupid.

Posted by Mac on October 19, 2010 08:18

Editor Comment:

Not everybody comes to Phuket with an understanding of what the flags mean. If you come from a country without beaches, for example, how would you know? There are scores of other distractions. That's why it's important to tell incoming passengers on flights what to expect, and to reinforce that message again on check-in, and a third time at the beaches.

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Sorry I didn't mean only the middle aged but all mature adults.

Posted by Mac on October 19, 2010 08:24

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No different to riding a motorbike without a helmet or driving a car without a seatbelt. Most people are aware of the dangers but ignore the warnings. The same people who ignore seatbelt signs, use mobile phones etc. on flights and have no idea of how to act in an emergency will also ignore education regarding safety on the beaches. Not only in Phuket, this happens worldwide. Common sense is the answer but unfortunately a lot of people seem to lack this basic instinct.

Posted by Mac on October 19, 2010 11:23

Editor Comment:

Hmmm . . . difficult to generalise. Some of the cases we've investigated have been of people who had no idea they were putting their lives at risk, and were never warned. The comparison with seatbelts is not strictly fair because technology provides the safety mechanism. No ''safety mechanism'' for those who weren't told about the danger in the water.

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Warning people on flights inbound is a good idea as well at check-in to hotels, but the underlying fault is not telling the people when they are purchasing their air tickets or tour packages ahead of time, the appearance seems to be "get them here" then tell them (or lack of telling them) the dangers. Why can't they be warned before coming here?

Posted by Lee on October 19, 2010 12:38

Editor Comment:

I think that's the responsibility of the individual. In comparing destinations, the traveller has to learn for himself or herself that rabid dogs are on the loose in Bali, for example, that terrorist threats hang over Europe, and that the ''summer'' surf on Phuket can be dangerous. There are, of course, plenty of positives, too. Phuket's collective responsibility begins as each flight descends to the airport.

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Ed, the safety mechanism in these cases can only be common sense. Some people will never take notice of warnings because either they think they are clever or the have idea of "it will never happen to me" and immune to these kinds of accidents. Perhaps they still expect Mummy, Daddy, a knight in shining armour or some imaginary god to help them whenever they get in trouble.
It's just common sense that will tell you not to go in the ocean if there are big waves or strong currents and don't put your head in a hot fire. If you don't have it then you are very likely to run in to trouble.

Posted by Mac on October 19, 2010 12:39

Editor Comment:

Every individual will react differently. You are still generalising. Commonsense only comes into play once adequate warnings have been delivered. And human nature is why three warnings are absolutely essential: on flights, at check-in, and on the beaches. Having attracted the tourists to Phuket at a risky time of year for swimming, everyone involved shares the responsibility of maximising each tourist's safety.

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Editor, there are certainly a lot of positives, do not get me wrong, but with the "road shows" going overseas to advertise tourism in Phuket, would it not be a bit critical to state that during the monsoon season we have rip tides and explain what those are?

I understand Phuket is trying to get tourists, but at what cost? Get a family here in summer season and one of them drowns, they will not be back or get a family here in high season (or low season after they have been told of the dangers, they may come back as well because the costs are lower in low season.)

I certainly agree that people should do reseach on their destinations, but if a road show does not state the dangers, this is sad.

"Phuket's collective responsibility begins as each flight descends to the airport."

But does this not begin with information beforehand, that can be provided by Phuket?

Posted by Lee on October 19, 2010 14:03

Editor Comment:

If all tourist destinations were required to be totally honest, the world would be a better place, and tripadvisor would no longer be with us. It is not in the rulebook for marketers of any destination - or for that matter any product of any kind - to list the deficiencies of the place, or the product. A better idea is for Phuket to ensure tourists are safe once they arrive. Until then it's caveat emptor, as always, not just with Phuket as a holiday destination but with all purchases. It would also be a mistake to exaggerate the dangers.

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"Sign in English and Thai at Patong beach - but no Russian to be seen"

Lets get serious here. How many languages would you like a warning sign in? Why not add French, Spanish, German, Swedish, Chinese as well up to the point where the next Phuketwan campaign will be to remove the 100 metre warning signs that obscure the panorama.

Red is a universal warning sign/signal. If people don't know then they should stay at home. I'm all for appropriate warnings and safety messages but the line has to be drawn somewhere... and how many tourists actually read the signs in Thai and English anyway?

On multi-language signs you're beating a dead horse. People need to take some responsibility for their own actions and that includes educating themselves.

Posted by John L on October 19, 2010 14:57

Editor Comment:

I'd much prefer to be beating a dead horse than mourning a dead tourist. Most of these deaths are needless, preventable, totally unnecessary. The attempts at warnings are half-hearted or ill-conceived, as with the Patong signs. What's required is a three-stage warning system: on the incoming flight, in the appropriate languages; when the tourists check in, in the appropriate languages (in person and in brochures); at the beach in the form of internationally accepted warning systems. Rescue and resuscitation also need to be signposted, and efficient, with good training and equipment. We don't take any pleasure in reporting these calamities. It's high time they were prevented. After a drowning, it's too late to tell people to ''stay home.''

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I see the Russians daily ignoring red flags. If someone warns them they ignore this, too.

Posted by katabeachbum on October 19, 2010 15:00

Editor Comment:

That's as much a failure of the warning system as the stubbornness of tourists. Were they warned as the flight descended to Phuket that the beaches could be dangerous? Were they told in person and with a brochure at check-in that the beaches could be dangerous? Were the signs at the beach to international standard, plain and impossible to ignore? The answers, I can almost guarantee, are: no, no and no. Once a person enters the water, the whistle-blowing is too late.

The easy answer is to blame the tourists. Why are they here? For the beach holiday they've been told they can have on Phuket at any time of the year. They plan to take a swim, because they've been led to believe they can.

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This is a situation that has been going on for years all over the world and no matter how many warning signs are displayed or people are told of the dangers, it will continue to happen. The recent wave (forgive the pun) of drownings/rescues in Phuket is quite shocking but as I said before there will always be people who think that they are clever or maybe they are just plain ignorant and refuse to listen.

Posted by Mac on October 19, 2010 15:22

Editor Comment:

Sure. But what Phuket needs to do is to make sure it bears no part of the guilt, that all efforts have been made to prevent a tragedy, and that a proper rescue system is also on stand-by. Then it's up to the individual. So far, Phuket shares the guilt.

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How many languages on a sign board?

"That's as much a failure of the warning system. Were they warned as the flight descended to Phuket that the beaches could be dangerous? Were they told in person and with a brochure at check-in that the beaches could be dangerous? Were the signs at the beach to international standard, plain and impossible to ignore?"

How many languages need to be posted? Why were they not told prior to coming here or booking flights?

Posted by Lee on October 19, 2010 15:25

Editor Comment:

Internationally-accepted signs are what's required. I can't tell you whether the latest victims were adequately warned at any stage. Did they get the three-stage warning? No. That's what's required. I've already explained to you why earlier warnings are a pipe-dream. No point in asking the same question again and again.

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Good point Ed, but then the question arises as always, who will pay for the rescue operations, boats, helicopters etc? The local government? Hotel operators? I think not. Maybe down to good old volunteers and charity organisations as usual.
Unfortunately, there are more desperate issues in the world that deserve such funding.

Posted by Mac on October 19, 2010 15:40

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Russians ignoring red flags? Well, Communism is truly dead.

Posted by Tanya Millibank on October 28, 2010 16:01


Tuesday April 23, 2019
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