“The owners of the resort will provide free accommodation and free meals until a plane from Russia arrives,” said Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai, who visited the Russian trio – Nikolai Sharov, 28; Sofia Sharova, 23; and Aleksei Galievi, 30 – at the temple yesterday (Apr 5).
The Russian government may send a plane to pick up Russian nationals who need to get home, but at this time the exact date and time are not yet known,” he added.
Also present at the temple to speak with the three Russians yesterday were Maj Ekkachai Siri of the Phuket Tourist Police and Winai Sae-iew, Village Headman (Phu Yai Baan) of Moo 4, Mai Khao.
Mr Winai explained that he first learned that the three tourists were staying at the temple building on Mar 25, after he went to investigate reports by local villagers of noises coming from the building.
“At first local villagers thought they were ghosts,” he said.
The tourists explained that their flight home was cancelled and that they were waiting for their ticket refunds.
They had already informed the Russian embassy of their predicament, but in the meantime they had no money to pay for another flight home or to pay for any accommodation, Mr Winai explained.
“Our officials checked their temperatures, and none of them had a fever. They are all healthy,” Mr Winai said.
“I also gave them masks and offered them to move to another building, but they declined saying they were fine where they were,” he added.
Mr Winai continued to check on the three tourists, while news of their predicament made its way to the upper echelons of provincial administration and to leading tourism officials.
Mr Winai himself reported the situation to the Phuket Tourist Police.
Meanwhile, feeling sorry for the tourists, local residents living around the temple brought the three Russian fruit and other food to eat. All three of the tourists expressed their deep gratitude to the generous Thai spirit.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office Director of Napasorn Kakai yesterday became aware of the Russians’ situation.
“I asked relevant officials to check the area for where the foreigners could stay, and I asked for health officials check all three of the tourists for COVID-19 just to be sure,” she said.
“I have also asked for local officials to coordinate with the [Russian] embassy to provide assistance,” she added.
“Please, any tourists who need assistance, contact your embassy,” Ms Napasorn said.
Additional reporting by Tanyaluk Sakoot