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Keeping people safe at sea should be a priority for the tourist coast

Sea Rescue Centres for Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga

Thursday, October 1, 2009
Today's Updating Report

SEA RESCUE centres are to be set up in Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi as part of an effort to ''restore confidence among tourists and the image of tourism,'' the Thai News Agency reported today.

A budget of 18 million baht has been allocated for sea rescue centres in the three major Andaman tourism provinces, plus Ranong and Trang at a later date.

Local fishermen would be trained in appropriate rescue response techniques because they were often the first on the scene, the TNA report said.

The report quoted Phuket Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Centre chief Udomporn Karn as saying that the budget will also provide emergency aid kits for sea rescue within a five kilometre radius. Three speed boats would be part of the response.

The report said provision of the service ''will help restore confidence among visitors in handling natural disasters and accidents at sea as well as rebuilding the image of tourism in the Andaman coastal provinces.''

The sinking of the tourist dive boat Dive Asia 1 earlier this year involved the drowning of seven people, six of them from Europe and Japan.

Another 23 survivors were plucked from two liferaft, but only after they spent many hours floating in the sea within sight of Patong.

Eventually the survivors managed to signal to a fishing boat with a mirror, then used the fisherman's mobile telephone to call in their own rescue.

Many questions still remain unanswered. Why did a relatively new ''live-aboard'' vessel sink in a sudden squall, without receiving a weather warning, or apparently even without the time to send an SOS?

Why was no aircraft sent to search for the survivors, once authorities knew the vessel was missing?

An aircraft would have found the liferaft speedily, within an hour or so at the most.

If the weather had been more severe, the lives of the survivors could have been at risk. Instead, they bobbed at sea for hours in bright weather, just off Patong, until they organised their own rescue.
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Comments

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A sea rescue center is a commendable project. But surely there are more important priorities?

In the case of the Dive Asia 1 incident, I doubt whether the presence of a sea rescue center would have reduced the number of fatalities - those that succumbed apparently died within minutes of the sinking.

Would this funding not be better used to provide trained, fill-time salaried lifeguards at all popular beaches, with rescue jetskis and boards, watch towers and radios etc? Such a visual presence on the beaches would boost tourist confidence far more.

I think there would even be enough money to employ secuirty patrols to keep the beaches clear of jetski scammers and hawkers....

Posted by Simon Luttrell on October 2, 2009 10:46

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There are too many Rescue Operation Centers in Phuket with little budget and no coordination between them.
- Phuket Marine Police has 3 operating boats in Phuket at Rassada Pier but not enough money for training properly the staff and to pay the diesel expenses; so they are at port day after day.
- Marine National Park Division at Sarasin Bridge has it own rescue operation center http://www.marineoperations.org/ but no budget for training and boat maintenance.
- Phuket Or Bor Tor has set up a rescue operation center at Chalong pier but the 2 speed boats they have are good for private party but are useless for a real sea rescue operation.
In fact, Phuket need a professional Rescue Operation Center with sea-going boats able to go by the sea in all weathers day and night but such boat cost a lot of money and will need true trained sailors in rescue operations with monthly trainings to be able to be efficient 14/24hr and all year round.
It is better to have one large rescue operation center who knows than 10 small operation centers which do not know.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on October 2, 2009 12:49


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