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Two drownings in one monsoon day: how many will die on Phuket beaches?

Phuket's Killer Beaches Claim Two More Lives: Nightmare of Phuket Drownings Continues

Thursday, June 20, 2013
PHUKET: A Belgian and a Russian drowned on Phuket's beaches today as the nightmare of Phuket's lack of ''duty of care'' claimed four lives within 48 hours.

Today's drownings at Phuket's popular Laem Singh beach and Patong beach follow two deaths of Chinese tourist in Phuket's regional waters within 24 hours.

Phuket's beach safety reputation was shredded today as lifeguards pulled people who entered the seas from the water at many beaches.

Hard-pressed lifeguards could not cope with tourists, enticed to Phuket for beach holidays during the monsoon season, refused to acknowledge red flags.

As a result, Belgian Laurent Jacques Leopold Wanter, 42, drowned at Laem Singh, a small beach between Kamala and Surin, while his wife was rescued.

The tragedy came about 4pm. Ruamkatanyu Foundation Kamala paramedics tried to revive the man who died on the way to Patong Hosptial.

The paramedics said they were told that the waves were three metres high, and no swimmers should have been allowed in the water.

Life guards say the couple ignored the red flags and could not be dissuaded from enjoying their beach holiday swim.

They had been staying at the Duangjitt Resort in Patong since Tuesday and rented a motorcycle to take them to Laem Singh.

The second drowning followed near Loma Park on Patong beach. Russian man Aleksande Poleshchenko, 29, who was staying with his brother at the Holiday Inn Express, was standing in the shallows when a big wave swept the pair of them off their feet.

One brother drowned. The other was rescued.

Earlier in the day, the Phuket Lifeguard Service spokesperson told Phuketwan, two people were revived at Surin beach using cpr after they ignored red flags and warnings from lifeguards twice.

At Patong beach soon after, four people were swept into the sea and three were rescued and revived by lifeguards. The Russian man drowned.

With the Belgian and the Russian man to add to the string of beach tragedies, it's likely that envoys from around the world will be calling for Phuket to be red-flagged as a beach destination during the dangerous monsoon season.

Eight tourists died on Phuket's west coast beaches between mid-May and mid-July last year. The same tragedies are occurring this year, without an appropriate reaction from authorities.

Phuket resorts, local authorities and the management at Phuket International Airport appear to be continuing to ignore the message from lifeguards, Phuketwan and China's ambassador.

The ambassador told Phuket officials just a couple of weeks ago at a public meeting that Chinese tourists - all tourists - must be warned and protected.

No response has come to Chinese officials since that public warning.

The tragedies of the past two days follow a string of drownings of Chinese on snorkelling day-trips.

It also comes after a series of tragedies at this same time last year that provoked no response. Eight tourists drowned in eight weeks on Phuket's popular west coast beaches, between mid-May and mid-July last year.

Phuket's lifeguards were recently told that the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation can only contract them on the beaches for 10 months.

This means that the lifeguards - whose contract has to be renewed annually - will be on Phuket's beaches from June 28 until April 27, when another debate about money may ensure they disappear from the beaches for up to two months yet again.

Phuketwan - and the Chinese ambassador - have suggested that if Phuket wishes to be a year round destination, then all resorts, officials at the airport and the whole community must combine to warn visitors about the dangers of swimming on red flag days.

Otherwise, Phuket is likely to be red-flagged.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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That is very sad news again. But it's what you get when you care about money that you will get, from tourist than to care about tourist who will bring you money. It look same, but not. Take your responsibility and do proper work to prevent that.

Laemsing is small place... So how it can happen???
not like Patong, Kata, Karon, more difficult to secure the full beach...
very sad news, not happy at all to read that.

Posted by Stef on June 20, 2013 21:29

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Good article. Need to get this type of information out into the greater media world though. Reuters?

Posted by Phil on June 20, 2013 21:48

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I have nothing but the highest respect for the life guards. They risk their lives to save the very people who ignore their warnings.

The real problem is, as usual, money ,i.e. greed. Phuket is marketed as a year-round beach destination. When tourists travel half way across the world to swim in the ocean, they are hell-bent to do so no matter what.

The solution is to provide them with objective information about the risks on Phuket beaches in the low season BEFORE they purchase their trips.

This is naturally something most tourism related businesses on Phuket do NOT want to happen because they would lose customers. Dead customers don't seem to bother them as long as they've paid their bills.

At the end of the day it's the same old Phuket story. Money is much more important that the safety of tourists and a few dead ones here and there make no difference. Plenty more landing every day.

I hope foreign embassies take stern action, join together as a united front and publish official warnings on their websites and inform their local media and government agencies back home to get the message across.

Phuket authorities have proven time and time again that they are not interested in tourist safety at all.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 20, 2013 22:45

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the beaches aren't the killers- the seas are!! and agin it is the responsibility of the individual to decide if they want to swim when red flags are posted

Posted by another steve on June 21, 2013 00:28

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Sad stories... But not only the authorities on Phuket or others are to be blamed.Ones life is anyones personal responsibility at first. A non or poor swimmer entering the see in the described conditions shows servere lack of common sense, and is therefore gambling with Life itself. Chinese people who never seen a beach for example, should defenitely stay out of the water and enjoy the view and no more...

Posted by Swede from Malmo on June 21, 2013 03:46

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It is not the authorities on Phuket or any organization's fault, it is the fault of those that enter the water only. The beaches all display a red flag, meaning beach closed, enter at your own risk, why should life savers risk there own life when stupid people enter the water when advised not to.

Posted by coxo on June 21, 2013 07:04

Editor Comment:

People have to be told what the red flag means because the flags are often out for days on end. New arrivals often have no experience of wild, treacherous beaches. They must be told on arrival, when they check in, and on the beaches. Otherwise, people will figure they are being enticed to Phuket at the wrong time of the year, out of greed's sake. Showing no ''duty of care'' is one of Phuket's biggest problems.

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why why why why do people enter red flagged uninviting waters in one case appears the water are deceptive and he thought he was safe standing in the shallows is this where the problem lies? the theory im safe near the waters edge not out of my depth so im ok ,or for for another matter decide there going to learn how to ride a motorbike on this island, its these 2 issues that are common donominator
factors in the death toll count,why is addressing identified problem areas so hard here!

Posted by slickmelb on June 21, 2013 07:39

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it just goes to show how little thai goverment cares about farangs, it is only farang money they want they dont care how many die. they dont care even if its thai people just look at how many die on the roads, just rap u up in a tarp and the problem is solved. (moderated)

Posted by Anonymous on June 21, 2013 07:53

Editor Comment:

When you say ''farangs'' I believe you mean tourists. It's a mistake to use words that carry the wrong connotations. ''Farang'' and ''foreign'' are too easily misinterpreted. It's not acceptable to suggest violent solutions, even as a joke.

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very strong tides at moment one of the very rare occasians never entered the waters today at Nai Harn and its going to get worse over next few days with the moon being closer to earth than usual

Posted by Michael on June 21, 2013 08:18

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Gonna share this article around and hope friends pass it on to let them know Phuket is not a beach destination this time of the year. Spread the word guys!

Posted by May on June 21, 2013 10:32

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Yes the lifeguards great to see on the beach and are needed for sure.
But sometimes in life you have to be responsible for your own actions.
If you see 3 meter waves crashing ashore with red flags all around,
DON'T go in the water or play on the rocks near to the water.
It's a matter of understanding personal safety and common sense.

Posted by Jimmy Rawai on June 21, 2013 12:41

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To anonymous, many Thai's drown also, a wild ocean does not discriminate, it will take anyone who is unaware as the statistics show.

Posted by coxo on June 21, 2013 16:36

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I witnessed two men of middle eastern appearance get saved opposite Molly Malones yesterday and one of them tried two more times to enter the water after repeatedly being warned not to go back in the sea . He tried a third time and the guard went mad and I think told him was a stupid w....r in thai, happily it sunk in that time that the guard was serious. On another note there were red flags on the north and south end and 3 outside the Bangla road police box !!!!! Then none for about 500 metres looking south. From what I saw though a guard was walking the beach but there were no visual signs to warn people but surely common sense should tell them not to go out into the surf

Posted by Mick.s on June 21, 2013 17:52

Editor Comment:

How many Middle East countries have surf beaches, Mick.s? Common sense is based on experience. Safety for all is based on repeated warnings.

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Editor Comment:

How many Middle East countries have surf beaches, Mick.s?

Ahh, just a few that i've surfed..;
UAE..in fact Dubai even has a major surf comp. Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Gaza, Bahrain, Turkey, Israel and more.

Posted by shaun on June 21, 2013 20:00

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Shaun, Dubai's surf comp is in a wave pool, not the ocean, Shaun I surf, I also lived and worked in the UAE, Oman has surf, the others have waves only when the wind is howling onshore, not solid ground swells travelling a thousand miles developing power.

Posted by coxo on June 22, 2013 09:46

Editor Comment:

Thanks for making the point i was attempting to make: that experiences internationally differ widely, and some people have no idea how to tell whether the sea is dangerous or whether it's always turbulent. That understanding only comes with experience.

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Shaun, Dubai's surf comp is in a wave pool, not the ocean, Shaun I surf, I also lived and worked in the UAE, Oman has surf, the others have waves only when the wind is howling onshore, not solid ground swells travelling a thousand miles developing power.

Oh dear coxo...maybe you, yourself only surfed in a pool ...take a look here maybe;
http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/everybodys-gone-surfin-surfin-uae

http://www.surfshopdubai.com/surfing-in-the-middle-east/

Posted by Shaun on June 22, 2013 11:14

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I looked at your links, proves nothing, I repeat, Dubai has dribble, not surf, when we talk surfing lets talk Indonesia, Tahiti, Hawaii, Fuji, and the list go's on, Dubai you have got to be kidding, the contestants in your Dubai comp are nobodys, just some boys having fun, you have just proved to me you do not understand the ocean or experienced its power, duck dive a 15 foot wave at Bells Beach and you will know!

Posted by coxo on June 22, 2013 17:53

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Calm down coxo..i answered a question from ed,which was..How many Middle East countries have surf beaches, Mick.s?
''Surf beaches''..Where unaware swimmers can drown at yes?Which i happen to have surfed at.
Not a pissing competition about the biggest and best surfboard riding beaches world wide.
People like you are the ones that stuff this comments section up for others.

Posted by Shaun on June 22, 2013 19:14

Editor Comment:

I still wonder what Mick.s has to say.


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