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A Karon lifeguard tries to explain to a Russian couple the dangers after a drowning in conditions similar to today. Red flags fail to stop swimmers

Phuket's Recent Drownings Total Eight

Monday, August 5, 2013
UPDATING All Day, Every Day

The drowned man has been named as Wael Zakhour, who was staying on Phuket with his nephew. His family have been notified.
Original Report

PHUKET: A tourist drowned on Phuket's Karon beach today and four other people had to be rescued from the surf in the same incident.

Red flags were flying all along the beach.

The dead man, a 45-year-old Syrian, was a guest at the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa, which usually has its own lifeguards on the beach.

Lifeguards stationed on the beach for Phuket Lifeguard Service patrols reported that all seven people got into difficulties at the same time.

''Two managed to swim back to the beach,'' a Lifeguard Services spokesperson said today.

''Three others were rescued by lifeguards. The other two were swept out to sea. A jet-ski pulled them both from the water.

''One of those rescued died on the way to Patong Hospital.''

Phuketwan has been supplied with the drowned man's name but will not publish it until we are certain relatives have been informed, even though family members may have been with him on the beach.

The man arrived on Phuket on August 3 and was scheduled to leave on August 11.

Phuket's undermanned lifeguards have said that they are unable to prevent people who are determined to swim on Phuket from entering the water, even when red flags are flying.

Water safety experts have called for greater community involvement in warning tourists of the dangers of swimming at Phuket's popular west coast beaches during the monsoon season.

Russian Dmitry Onishchenko, 32, drowned at Karon on July 22. A 60-year-old American surfer drowned at Kata beach, south of Karon, on July 7.

In an alarming spate of drownings at the end of June, five swimmers drowned at Phuket beaches in four days. They were a Phuket resident, two Russians, an Indian and a Belgian, all men.

In an eight-week period last year between mid-May and mid-July, eight people drowned on Phuket's west coast beaches.

Statistics relating to drownings on Phuket have not been updated since April, 2012. Tourists and residents no longer know whether safety precautions are gaining ground on the drowning toll or not.

But with the eighth drowning recorded this year on Phuket beaches between the end of June and August 5, it's plain authorities and resorts now must take greater action and probably close beaches properly.

Ironically, a five-day lifeguard training course involving the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation, the Royal Thai Navy and the Phuket Lifeguard Service was due to begin today.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Shock tactics is the only way. I think the lifeguards should show a picture folder of the dead with their names, nationalities, age and the date they died to these stupid people who will not listen to common sence

Posted by Nick on August 5, 2013 18:24


Why is it that Phuketwan does not publish names of the victim, and others do so? W*** Z***** is the guy that drowned today.

Posted by Charles on August 5, 2013 18:32

Editor Comment:

We're the only English-language publication on the island with a code of ethics, Charles.


More sad news - but we need to keep it in perspective. On Sunday 28 July 2013 7 ( yes seven )people drowned in one afternoon on the beaches at L'Herault in France. Yes they had lifeguards on duty and yes they had red flags posted on the beach. The French newspaper "Le Figaro" reported 22 deaths in the Languedoc-Roussillion area since June 2013 - so seems our lifeguards are doing a great job under difficult circumstances

Posted by Sebastian on August 5, 2013 18:56

Editor Comment:

There is no perspective except needless tragedy, Sebastian, whether it's seven deaths all at once or eight deaths over a couple of weeks on Phuket. Phuket's lifeguards are not doing a great job. Phuket's resorts are not doing a great job. Phuket's administrators are not doing a great job. They will be doing a great job when there are no needless drownings. Don't kid yourself.


the holliday brochures dont mention the monsoon season and insist on glossy covers with tropical ambience mill pond conditions golden sands umbreallas deckchairs and radiant sunshine 24/7 365 days of the year this is not the case this marketing is costing lives.

Posted by slickmelb on August 5, 2013 20:51

Editor Comment:

We'd be interested in seeing some of that marketing, slickmelb. Please send it to us. The problem we've noted is simpler than that. Phuket resorts don't always tell their guests that they are going to die if they swim at the beach on the wrong day. Responsible resorts do make that point. Irresponsible resorts - still the vast majority - do not. I should make the point that until now, the Hilton has been responsible. We will continue to ask, though, why one of their guests died.


He is a co worker and is one of the best men I have ever known he was a very genuine man who really cared about his family and friends
May god bless his soul he will be missed

Posted by M-A on August 5, 2013 23:01


Suprising no, sad yes. As slickmelb states you can't market Phuket as a swimmers' paradise all year round

Posted by Damien on August 6, 2013 09:36


Get rid of the red flags.They are worthless
replace with Deadly Currents/Rips etc.

Posted by thomas on August 6, 2013 10:16


With all the bumf and advertising boards that litter the island, I went to go and see the red flags for myself. I agree with thomas, the red flags look like markers for lontail boat anchor points or somebodies favorite place to set up their sunning spot. Seal off the dangerous beaches properly with those neon red, water filled barriers that they use on the roadways. Then if somebody goes over them, they are then in charge of their own demise, no-one else. Bits of red flag or strands of rope are not going to stop anybody swimming. Do it properly or don't do it at all.

Posted by DuncanB on August 6, 2013 12:34


I think it's a bit unfair to say Phuket lifeguards are not doing a great job. Maybe as an organisation they leave something to be desired but on an individual basis they are doing the best they can with the resources they have. These guys are ignored, abused by people when they try to get them to leave the water, and put their lives at risk to go in after people when they get in trouble. Red flags all along the beach in Kamala this week, signs in a number of languages and still people in the water. There's individual as well as collective responsibility involved here.

Posted by Mister Ree on August 6, 2013 12:55

Editor Comment:

Indeed.However, our definition of a ''great job'' would be keeping everyone out of the water on dangerous days. At present, for a multitude of reasons, they are not able to do that. They need community help.

Wednesday July 17, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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