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High number of Aussies die in Thailand, but there's no explanation

Thailand 'Deadliest' for Aussies: Cause is Secret

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Phuketwan News Analysis

MORE Australians are visiting Thailand for the last time because they are dying here, according to the latest figures issued by the country's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Following release of the statistics, newspapers in Australia described Thailand as by far the ''deadliest destination'' for citizens from Down Under. But why? No-one is saying.

In the year to June 30 2009, a total of 105 Australians died in Thailand, according to the DFAT figures. This compares with 50 in the US and 58 in Indonesia, both countries with larger numbers of Aussie visitors.

Efforts by Phuketwan over two weeks to establish a logical explanation for the high ratio of deaths among Australians in Thailand have failed.

Both the Australian Embassy in Bangkok and DFAT in Canberra, the Australian capital, have declined to provide any explanation for the exceptionally high death rate.

This is in contrast to Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which sends out an explanation of causes and trends with the annual release of its 'travellers in trouble'' figures, and responds to journalists' questions.

At the slightest hint of a virus or an uprising, Australia is usually among the swiftest of nations to issue often-spurious travel alerts to protect its citizens.

However, its foreign service equivalent now appear to prefer to let its citizens travel in total ignorance about the causes of the alarming rate of deaths in Thailand.

Why are Australians dying in such numbers in Thailand? Tourists won't be told because it's some kind of government secret.

Yet if a beer mat disappears from a bar in Patong and an Australian radio ''shock jock'' gets to hear from a suburban mum accused of theft, expect Canberra to have the Prime Minister respond.

What is going on? Under the Labor government, Canberra treats its travelling citizenry with disdain of a kind that has never been seen before.

For the record, 105 Australians died in Thailand out of 378,400 visitors in 2008-2009. This compares with 58 deaths in Indonesia among 436,100 Australians, and 50 deaths in the US among 500,000 visitors.

Did they fall off jet-skis in Patong? Were they mugged by ladyboys in Pattaya? Have Aussies suddenly taken to drink-driving on motorcycles?

What's more, is that visitor number for the US precise, or some kind of an approximation? There is no-one in Canberra or Bangkok who can tell us.

Proper statistical analysis is the basis for predicting future trends . . . and for warning people about potential dangers. Analysis of figures is something that is well done in the West, and improving rapidly in developing countries.

Australia, it seems, does not view the abnormally high death rate of its citizens in Thailand as a problem, or the need for proper statistical analysis as a priority.

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Whether the Aussie government views this as a "problem" or not, surely the collection of this type of statistic is essential. If these deaths are in any way preventable there lies a responsibility with the Australian authorities to act for the welfare of their citizens. It may simply be that more Aussies retire to Thailand and natural causes claim them- if we don't collect statistics we will never know!

Posted by Anonymous on September 22, 2009 08:47


I would suggest the Australian deaths are not spoken of because they are currently under investigation...It would be good if Thailand cared as much for its citizens as Australia does...Thailand desperately needs to clean up its image and its country...I am Australian and take offence to you comments...Think before you make silly comments

Editor: When it comes to information about the deaths of its citizens in Thailand, Australia shows none of the caring approach of which you speak. Denial of information about critically important life and death issues is hardly the hallmark of ''quality'' government.

Posted by Pazza on September 22, 2009 12:42


as per first response - they are old. Indonesia and US are not options for Australians to retire to; they are Aust passport holder not 'tourists' but no matter how long here are still counted as 'tourist' on foreign passport. There were similar (at first glance) high stats for the number of UK passport holders who die here published in about May-June this year.

Posted by Genghis on September 23, 2009 07:48


As Genghis told, there is a large junk of older aussies coming to Thailand.

And a lot of them do drink a lot, having a predisposition of unhealthy lifestyle, and also taken part in extra activities, that can be a real danger for an older and untrained heart. Come to that normal accidents by motorbikes e.a., the numbers get high fast.

But there is no hidden thing, like crime or spicy food. A lot of older aussies got married to a thai woman and they move here where live and beer is cheaper, so they tend to die here also. In Russia life expectancy is super low. Now imagine the portion of aussies with the same behavior as these russians come to Thailand. Doing more of the stupid same thing.

It is just a big portion of old, not rich people with an unhealthy lifestyle for their age.

Editor: The British separate expat residents from tourists, and explain the reasons for the deaths of their nationals. Perhaps the Russians do, too. The Australians explain nothing. Two deaths every week, all year long, in Thailand? That's a lot of unexplained dead Aussies. But if an Aussie mum is accused of stealing a beer mat, the whole government will be up in arms.

Posted by Bill on September 25, 2009 18:00


well I better start preparing myself for an unexpected exit. Guess I should drink more, have more sex and drugs and go out with a bang :)

Posted by arco in rawai on September 26, 2009 06:29


"Under the Labor government, Canberra treats its travelling citizenry with disdain of a kind that has never been seen before."
So true. I'm retired and live in Thailand, make a trip back to Australia approximately once a year, generally around Xmas/NY.

Back in the Howard days I never had any trouble entering Australia, in fact Customs & Immigration officials used to be very friendly and ask me for suggestions for good holiday spots. Now under Rudd Gov' I get treated like dirt. Every inch of my luggage is searched, my laptop has been seized and had the HDD copied.

Nobody is friendly to me anymore, in fact they seem damn annoyed when their searches fail to turn up anything illegal. What a huge difference the change in Gov' has made for travellers.

Posted by Jimbo on September 26, 2009 12:19


Thailand is a dangerous place for all foreigners for a number of reasons. Here are some statistics:

As per the Global Peace Index 2008:

Thai vs USA

Number of homicides per 100,000 people 3 : 2

Level of violent crime 4 : 1

Level of organized conflict (internal) 3 : 1

Overall rank 2008 1-140 (1 most peacful) 118 : 97

As per WHO:

Heavy vehicle driver collision with car, pickup, van *

Rank Countries Amount (top to bottom)

#1 Ecuador: 185 deaths

#2 Thailand: 48 deaths

#3 Mexico: 15 deaths

#4 Venezuela: 6 deaths

#5 Korea, South: 6 deaths

Unspecified drowning and submersion (per capita)

World Ranking Deaths per 1 million people (numbers rounded to nearest whole digit)

#1 Belize: 64

#2 Thailand: 56

#3 Cayman Islands :45

#4 Kyrgyzstan: 44

#5 El Salvador: 42

As per the OECD Factbook 2007: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics for 2005, road fatalities/million population for Italy and the US were 90 and 145 respectively. As per the Department of Highways of Thailand, road fatalities for the same period were 504 (per million population)! That's almost 6 times the fatality rate in Italy for the same year.

The homicide with firearms rates in Thailand are equally as staggering. Based on the 8th UN survey 2002, Thailand rated 3rd in the world for murders with firearms, surpassed only by Columbia and South Africa. On a per capita basis, Thailand's murder rate was approximately 6 times that of the US. Thailand's murder rate (all causes) was double that of the US.

Posted by falang on September 30, 2009 06:58


I would think that more elderly men go to Thailand then any other countries. A lot of old Aussie expats die here of old age. Perhaps these are included in these stats?

Editor: Your guess may be correct, but the people who can provide an accurate answer prefer to leave us all imagining the reasons. And that, for a responsible western government, is alarming.

Posted by Don on October 5, 2009 09:32


Aussies are renowned for their love of beer and it wouldn't surprise me if a large portion of these deaths were alcohol related in one way or another.Perhaps the Australian government just doesn't want to acknowledge its nation's drinking problem..........

Editor: Or perhaps they overdose on Vegemite.

Posted by GlobalGypsy on October 5, 2009 16:57


I see where Australia reckons to be the most livable place on the planet. How can that be when they have a government that prefers to shroud its statistics in secrecy? Openness and honesty are an important part of the measure of whether a country deserves the accolade of ''most livable.'' Clearly, there are some things that the present Australian rulers prefer not to explain to their citizens.

Posted by Angelfire on October 6, 2009 11:02


Perhaps the elephant in the room is the free availability of hookers and blue pills, and the number of low-rent middle-aged and older Aussies who take advantage of them when they shouldn't?

Australia would p*** the Thai government right off if they admitted the truth, wouldn't they?

Does that really surprise you, or have you simply not thought about it?

Posted by Harry Barracuda on November 1, 2009 19:31


Perhaps the elephant in the room is the free availability of hookers and blue pills, and the number of low-rent middle-aged and older Aussies who take advantage of them when they shouldn't?

It would be good if Thailand cared as much for its citizens as Australia does...Thailand desperately needs to clean up its image and its country...I am Australian and take offence to your comments.

Posted by camper trailers for sale on October 9, 2010 02:06

Editor Comment:

And I take offence at you insulting both your own fellow citizens and Thailand when what you really aim to do is sell camper trailers.

Monday February 26, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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