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Phuket's plight: Fighting for a young man's life on Karon beach today

Phuket Tourists Fight to Save Young Man's Life: Photo Special

Sunday, June 23, 2013
UPDATING All Day, Every Day

A 19-year-old from Koh Kaew who went on a seaside picnic with his family today is missing, presumed drowned at Phuket's Layan beach. If confirmed, his drowning would be Phuket's fourth at beaches in four days.

Brave Enough to Change Phuket

PHUKET: Russian tourists fought to save the life of a young man on Karon beach today by applying resuscitation techniques.

And today in frustration came a call from the Phuket Lifeguard Service to close Phuket's beaches - or at least the dangerous parts of them - at this time of the year.

The lifeguards say they can't do it all alone. By the time tourists reach the beaches, it's too late. Two Chinese women narrowly escaped death at Surin beach.

Something has to be done, and closing stretches of Phuket beaches makes sense. Holidaymakers cannot simply be allowed to continue to drown with regularity on Phuket at this time of the year.

Saving a person from drowning is not a pretty process. The young man in these photographs was still clinging to life late today.

He was one of five people rescued from the monsoon surf at Phuket's west coast beaches today. Two of them were still being treated in Patong Hospital, Phuketwan was told.

The man in the photographs was at first taken to Patong Hospital then transferred to the better-equipped Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket City, where he remains in a coma.

Phuket has endured a tragic opening to the monsoon season with three drownings in five days on Phuket beaches and several other deaths on Phuket or nearby since May.

Many others have been narrowly rescued. All of Phuket's famous west coast beaches are risky on the wrong day, in the wrong place.

Phuketwan publishes these photographs today in the hope that they will generate greater awareness of the dangers of swimming at this time of year, and of the need for a community safety program to save unnecessary deaths.

We don't know whether this young man was warned about the dangers of the surf but, like many others, he was intent on swimming on his holiday at the Phuket seaside.

While individuals bear some responsibility, so does the entire Phuket community. Tourists are encouraged to come to Phuket, a beach holiday destination, all year long.

But they must be warned of the dangers and they must be prevented from taking unnecessary risks.

The danger for Phuket is that national governments could react by telling their citizens not to come to Phuket between May and July unless a proper community safer program is put in place.

We urge Phuket authorities and Phuket resort managements to act immediately. Waiting even another day may bring more needless tragedies.

Phuketwan reported the eight drownings on Phuket's beaches last year between mid-May and mid-July. We called for greater, more responsible action this year.

Nothing has changed. The toll for this year is on track to be as terrible and as unnecessary as last year. Lifeguards have placed extra signs at beaches but they are ignored.

It's time to implement the triple-stage warning process at Phuket airport, on check-in at every resort and guesthouse, and at the beaches. It's time to close some beaches - partially or completely if necessary.

Phuket's Shocking Monsoon Marine Death Toll 2013

June 22 Indian tourist Ramesh Chand Singhal, 49, goes into the surf at Kata with a bodyboard and drowns.

June 20 Two drownings within one hour as Belgian Laurent Jacques Leopold Wanter, 42, drowns at Laem Singh beach and Aleksande Poleshchenko, 29, drowns soon after at Patong beach.

June 19 Chinese tourist Chen Peng, 36, dies afterv being struck by a speedboat propeller in the water at scenic Pileh Bay, near Phi Phi.

June 18 Chinese tourist Ran Li, 23, drowns on a day-trip outing to Racha island.

June 14 Eighteen European envoys meet on Phuket and request more effort to improve marine and beach safety.

May 29 Chinese Ambassador Guan Mu makes a strong public plea on Phuket for more warnings - at the airport, at resorts and at beaches - to save more lives.

May 28 A Young Chinese tourist drowns on a day-trip from Phuket to Pai island.

May 21 British tourist Jeremy Thomas O'Neill, 37, is found dead on Patong beach about 6am. It is believed he may have misjudged the strength of the waves in darkness.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Right on, Alan.

Posted by Sam Wilko on June 23, 2013 20:18


This is very tragic. It does seem that on the major beaches where these deaths occur there are flags, signs and lifeguards but sadly there are still deaths. Therefore the only option is to close beaches in certain conditions. The last two weeks have been about the worse weather and sea I can remember in many years. There should also be warnings issued at the airport where cards are placed into Passports at arrival and also all resorts should have warnings on the room doors and checks made from the local government like they do for foreigner details being supplied to authorities.

Posted by Donating Farang on June 23, 2013 20:32


Your persistence is to be lauded Mr Ed as you say in your article lots of deaths last year and this years figures are again on the climb what will it take to get these simple suggestions instigated by the people running this island. Money as usual here seems to be the deciding factor on allowing this carnage to continue year on year.

Posted by Scunner on June 23, 2013 20:43


"Nothing has changed"

Welcome to Phuket.

Proud home of the most ineffective, corrupt and impotent authorities I've ever had the displeasure to come across and I've been to over 90 countries.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 23, 2013 21:59

Editor Comment:

Put-downs are easy and pointless. Given your wide experience, why not offer something constructive for a change? Give us one or two useful ideas from those 90 countries, or stop wasting our time.


A few years back the greedy managers in the hospitality industry decided to change the marketing strategy of Phuket and rename monsoon season to "green season" in an effort to attract more people in the low season. Calling a spade what it is and using the term "monsoon season" might help prevent some of these accidents.

Posted by fakename on June 23, 2013 22:35



Posted by ThaiMike on June 24, 2013 09:45

Editor Comment:

Its the policy of this site to encourage positive suggestions, not put-downs. I suggest you restrict your comments to the sites that encourage put-downs. The Bangkok Post, incidentally, reported recently that Phuket has 11 million international visitors a year. Today the Post says there were ''7.4 million visitors last year, 80% foreigners'' The true figure is less than three million. We published the EU ambassadors' statement in full days ago. Visiting 90 countries appears to have taught you little.


There's nothing I can suggest that has not been suggested before and I doubt anyone else can either.

The problem is neither the inability to identify the problems nor the lack of knowledge how to solve them.

I find the flak hurled at the local authorities to be fully justified.

We foreigners may piss and moan, or make endless constructive suggestions all day, every day but the fact remains that only Thais can ultimately change things in Thailand.

My response was triggered by your acknowledgement that nothing has changed.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 24, 2013 10:52

Editor Comment:

I suggest you familiarise yourself with Phuketwan, and our approach. We haven't given up and the EU ambassadors' statement is the most positive sign yet that others haven't given up, either. To see it entirely in negative terms is to totally misread the facts. Phuket's outlook has never been more promising. If you consider yourself as a ''foreigner'' anywhere, no wonder you're on the outside.


It's make or break time. The lack of official response from Thai authorities does not bode well but at least some Thais are genuinely upset about the situation. Something which the BP article clearly shows. Why you refuse to include the link to it I don't understand. Flawed tourist numbers are irrelevant to this particular point I'm trying to make.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 24, 2013 11:21

Editor Comment:

If you think the Bangkok Post covers Phuket with greater accuracy and awareness of the issues than Phuketwan, you are kidding yourself.

We don't link to rival news outlets - even respectable ones - nor do rival news outlets link to Phuketwan. If you have a positive comment to add, go right ahead. If not, don't bother.


I didn't know it was the policy of PW to accept only positive comments but thanks for clearing it up.

I do have positive comments but you keep editing them out and them blame me for being only negative.

Equally blame me for using the word foreigner but then refuse to publish my response and explanation.

If you criticize readers then at least let them respond.

PW certainly provides the most accurate reporting on issues related to Phuket. Kudos for that.

The BP report was only to show Thais are getting upset about inaction of authorities on Phuket, which is a very positive and welcome reaction. I'm very aware how inaccurate BP can occasionally be.

Several different news outlets and even BP, have quoted and keep quoting PW as their source. Direct links ? No, but credit given where credit is due.

I'm surprised you see BP as a rival to PW. They are a national news outlet, PW is local. BP is also often clearly politically (or otherwise) influenced, something I'm happy to say I very rarely see on PW.

Only thing springing to my mind is what appears to be a ban on criticism directed at Marine Office 5 and it's leader.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 24, 2013 12:54

Editor Comment:

We aim to change Phuket for the better by triggering action by the appropriate authorities. We've never targetted individuals and will not play the ''blame game.'' For example, Marine Office 5's commitment to transferring people by water to alleviate traffic congestion on Phuket is a Bangkok idea that should work on a river but has no hope of success during Phuket's ''drowning season,'' or at any other time of the year. It should not be long before even Bangkok realises that and attention can return to protecting tourists and developing the deep sea port.


Problem with closing the beaches, is that tourists would then ignore the 'Beach closed' signs - and still drown. It would help if tour companies and hotel reception staff handed out leaflets advising guests of the dangers of swimming, May - November.

Posted by agogohome on June 24, 2013 13:43


Thank you for publishing my comment without editing it. I understand and agree with your response.

I was not aware the Phuket airport boat transfer was a BKK idea. It certainly helps to see things in a different light.

Hopefully the continuing, sometimes lethal boat accidents would soon get due attention from the said Marine Office.

Unless I've missed it, I've seen no official response or action to the accident that killed the Chinese man just last week.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 24, 2013 13:47

Editor Comment:

Let me put it this way: the Transport Department is trying to put people on the water in Bangkok and appears to be far too supportive of the Phuket idea, wherever it was actually conceived.
As the propeller killed the man in Phang Nga waters, it would be a matter for Phang Nga authorities, even though the journey began on Phuket.

Thursday March 23, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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