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A rescued woman is treated in hospital after the whitewater disaster

Whitewater Surge Swamped Phuket Tourists: Two Dead

Saturday, June 9, 2012
PHUKET: White-water rafting companies operating north of Phuket have been ordered to stop rafting after two tourists died and two others were injured in a raft capsize yesterday.

With the search continuing for the body of one of the dead, Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation officer Somkiert Intarakam today ordered six tour companies - who mostly rely on Phuket tourists - to stop operating.

As well as banning whitewater rafting, department officials also ordered the companies to stop elephant trekking because of concerns about deadly landslips.

One 28-year-old Phuket tourist from Kuwait is dead, his body recovered. Missing is an Egyptian man, aged 24. His wife, also aged 24, and a Kuwaiti man, aged 48, were rescued and treated at Phang Nga Hospital yesterday.

It is believed they have since been discharged and allowed to return to Phuket.

With them in a round inflatable raft yesterday were two local guides based at Baan Songprag in Phang Nga, the province north of Phuket. Local village chief Boonrong Jamroonsawatdichai explained today what had happened.

He said that the whitewater operators had suspended operations for two days as Phuket, Phang Nga and the entire region took a pounding from the seasonal southwest monsoons.

When there was a break in the weather yesterday, they decided it was time to resume whitewater rafting.

As the four Phuket tourists and their guides rode downstream, a massive torrent of water roared downstream and capsized the raft, flinging everyone into the water, Khun Boonrong said.

The guides were able to rescue two of the Phuket tourists, but could not save them all.

Khun Boonrong said that on past experience with a case in 2006, when British tourist Shenaz Kapoor, 22, disappeared and drowned, it could take up to 10 days to find the lost man.

In 2005 Australian Rachel O'Neill, 29, drowned when she fell out of a raft and was trapped underwater by rocks.

The whitewater rafting season north of Phuket usually begins with the arrival of the southwest monsoon and continues through until November.

Unusually large amounts of rain have fallen over the Phuket region this week, especially on Thursday when a powerful storm battered Phuket's holiday west coast beaches and flooded much of Patong and Phuket City, toppling trees into powerlines and triggering traffic chaos.

Phuket and Phang Nga remain among eight provinces listed today at being at risk of flooding and landslips, although the sunshine returned in Phuket City this morning and tourists returned to the beaches in greater numbers.

Comments

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Another tragedy due to irresponsible tour operators who don't give a toss about the safety of their guests. The Song Prae rapids are unsuitable for soft tourist tours. When water is insufficient a sluice gate is opened to provide the "white water" effect. Is it possible that this sluice gate was used incorrectly? It could explain the sudden surge of water

Posted by George on June 9, 2012 12:29

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what's bad weather and potential death got to do with making a baht this intervention is refreshing to see

Posted by traveller on June 9, 2012 15:08

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any news about the egyptian man, please if anyone know anything send me on this mail ramy.atef@windowslive.com

Posted by Ramy on June 9, 2012 19:04

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The water flow on the river where rafting occurs north of Phuket is under normal conditions is controlled by a few makeshift dams, really more like small locks, which were built by the raft companies since the normal river flows are normally not enough to float rafts. When the rafters are all ready, the locks are released and the rafters essentially ride a wave of water down river. Totally unnatural and devastating to the rivers ecology.

Posted by Joe on June 9, 2012 19:19

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Rest in peace hossam and god with your wife

Posted by Mona Bakr on June 14, 2012 01:02


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