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Phuket's killer surf claims Chinese tourist, 17; Americans rescued

PHUKET: The dangerous surf along Phuket’s west coast has claimed the life of another tourist, that of 17-year-old Wei Peixin, from Henan, China.

tourism, Chinese, death, accidents, marine,


Eakkapop Thongtub

Wednesday 14 June 2017, 12:45PM


A search launched at Phuket's Kamala Beach last night failed to locate 17-year-old Chinese tourist Wei Peixin. Photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

Rescue workers found Mr Wei’s body floating about 150 metres from the beach in front Kamala Police Station at about 8am today (June 14).

A search for Mr Wei last night was forced to be called off due to strong waves and the fall of night, said Lt Col Somnuek Damkaew of the Kamala Police.

Mr Wei entered the surf with friends He Xianyu, 18, and Zhao Shihao, 23, just before sunset yesterday. However, all three were soon swept away from the beach by a strong current.

One Phuket lifeguard told police, “The three went to swimming at about 6pm. They ignored reg flags warning (not to enter the surf).

“They were 50 metres from the shore when a big wave hit them. They shouted for help and tried to swim back to the land,” he said.

Col Somneuk reported, “Phuket lifeguards Sutthikiet Detsuwand and Thanin Naknuan rescued Mr He and Mr Zhao, but they could not find Mr Wei.

The lifeguards notified police that Mr Wei was still missing at 6:35pm, he added.

Kusoldharm rescue divers and officers from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Kamala office launched a search for Mr Wei, but were forced to halt their search due to the strong waves and the fall of night, Col Somneuk explained.

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The search resumed at 6am today.

Mr Wei’s body was taken to Patong Hospital, where friends and relatives identified it.

Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong arrived at Kamala Beach at 10am today. He thanked everyone involved for their rescue and search efforts.

Gov Norraphat noted that a meeting will be held at Phuket DDPM headquarters in Phuket Town tomorrow (June 15) to discuss ways of preventing people from drowning at Phuket beaches.

While Gov Norraphat was speaking with the press at Kamala Beach, Phuket lifeguards further north were busy rescuing two American tourists at Surin Beach.

The tourists, named as Mr Todd Michael Akin and Miss Kristina Elaine Gardemal, both from Texas, are both safe and have been taken to Thalang Hospital as a precaution, The Phuket News was told.

The couple arrived in Phuket yesterday and were enjoying their first day of their holidays in Phuket, police reported.

 

 

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Pauly44 | 16 June 2017 - 18:55:19

It's not the waves, it's the currents, the rip tide sucks the inexperienced tourist out and they become too fatigued fighting against it to stay afloat, ocean swell in this part of the world is very small compared to Australia, Hawaii and so on where they have real ground swell.

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Christy Sweet | 16 June 2017 - 15:04:50

I agree the waves are not so large compared to other destinations but the moniker "killer" surely is appropriate when so many are tragically dying in them.

Once upon a time the local govt kept a running tab on drownings, which were reported but it got so embarrassing and potentially harmful to the almighty baht, publicly disclosed tallies were stopped. 

I would not be surprised if per capita,  Phuket is the drowning capital of the known universe. 

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Kurt | 16 June 2017 - 11:13:00

Phuket sometimes experience nice surf/waves, but compared with many other locations on the world they hardly deserve to be named 'killer'.

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GregoryJCS | 16 June 2017 - 08:01:34

Killer surf???!!! What a joke, Can you sensationalize headlines any further to try to sell you newspaper? Waves don't kill people, people kill themselves by sheer stupidity. Better for the world when idiots like this can no longer contribute to the gene pool. Sounds harsh but really... Phuket surf conditions are mellow by world standards. Killer surf. I'm disgusted by that headline.

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Christy Sweet | 14 June 2017 - 20:48:43

Asterix, it is in the article; Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM)

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b1ackdrag0n | 14 June 2017 - 16:59:19

I agree with Asterix. Unfortunately the Chinese tourist paid the ultimate price. It's an important reminder to all of us when on holidays not to leave our common sense at home. If only they had adhered to the red flag rules. RIP.

The Phuket News

Asterix | 14 June 2017 - 15:53:36

What is the meaning of DDPM?
Is it a public hearing or only for Officials in the Thai Administration and the Tourism Associations?
Please, The Phuket News, be clear about reporting with details if any.

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simon01 | 14 June 2017 - 15:02:50

Then he needs to stop the cheap speed boat tour. Make sure all captains have an international skippers license. Then make the maximum ration of 6 customers - one qualified guide ie PADI trained not a tour guide. As the people in the water many can not swim so the guides need to be in the water with them and be minimum of a divemaster so they know how to teach and rescue.  This will mean far more jobs for locals, plus much more work for the training centers but most important far less drownings. Then a better image for Phuket and more people will come. This will also mean far more people qualified in rescue so when the tours become quiet in low season and the beaches more dangerous then all the snorkel guides can now work on the beaches as life guards giving then good year round employment. Now the speedboat snorkel tours are safe, the beaches are safe and there are far more full time jobs and all tours and beaches are covered be real qualified people. This can be done now in low season so come September there can be 500 more life guards and then as high season comes there will be 500 more fully qualified guides / snorkel instructors for the busy speed boat tours. All of this, if started now can cut the deaths and accidents within 2 months from now.

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Asterix | 14 June 2017 - 13:21:08

All tourists get warning by life-guards about the danger to swim in rough sea and everywhere on Phuket beaches you have red flags to inform them not to go swimming but stubborn tourists and drunkards don't care and their families blame later on the Thai autority and local people not to protect their siblings....
All did their choices to breach basic safety rules with tragic consequences.

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