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Chinese tourist deaths spur Phuket, Phi Phi tour boat safety hike

PHUKET: The Marine Chiefs of Krabi and Phuket have vowed to tackle dangerous speedboat operators in the wake of 18-year-old Chinese tourist Li Yuheng dying after the femoral artery in his left leg was slashed by a propeller at Phi Phi Island last week.

By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Wednesday 13 July 2016, 07:44PM

Tour speedboat operators in Phuket and Krabi, including Phi Phi Island, are about to come under closer scrutiny say local Marine Chiefs. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

Tour speedboat operators in Phuket and Krabi, including Phi Phi Island, are about to come under closer scrutiny say local Marine Chiefs. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

“Despite all efforts to save him, Mr Li died at 11:23 pm on July 8 at Krabi Hospital due to the injuries he sustained after being hit by the propeller,” confirmed Lt Col Chaetpan Naruedon, Chief Investigator at Phi Phi Police Station.

“Naradon Tongdee, 20, who started the engine, causing Mr Li’s injuries, has been charged with recklessness causing death.

“The tour company’s insurance has paid about B2.3 million in compensation to Mr Li’s family, the tour company also covered the costs of the family’s visit to Thailand following the incident,” he said.

Mr Li’s death follows the deadly collision of two tour speedboats off Phuket on June 8 that left two Chinese tourists dead and 34 other tourists injured. That incident, along with several fatal accidents off Pattaya, prompted a major push for marine safety improvements at the national level.

Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul in Phuket on June 16 announced a raft of new measures to improve marine safety in Thailand (see story here), while the Tourism Authority of Thailand also on June 16 posted the new 10-point marine safety crackdown on its website.

Under new regulations, the Marine Department is to impose severe penalties and bans for any businesses or boat operators that break the rules; introduce new and comprehensive testing for anyone applying for a boat operator’s license; and review and renew boat operators’ licenses every five years. (To see full list, click here.)


“We are focusing on the test knowledge and interviewing boat operator applicants,” Krabi Marine Chief Boonchaw Tangsiripaisan, who is responsible for vessels at Phi Phi, told The Phuket News.

“They will get their license only when they have gained enough knowledge and pass the test, and we will be strict on checking our database records before issuing or renewing any licenses,” he said.

“Regarding the accident on July 8, the boat operator has had his license suspended for two years, and he has yet to be sentenced for his criminal liability.”

Phuket Marine Chief Surachai Burapanontachai concurred.

“We are very serious about this issue because this should not happen to anyone,” he said. “The crew acts under the responsibility of the boat operator. If anything happens, the Marine Act holds the boat operator responsible. The consequences will be on him.

“Within two months, the Marine Office will issue new standards to boat operators which will also affect all crew,” he said.



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samhayman | 15 July 2016 - 01:00:32

They wait until many tourists die before taking action which will have no real effect anyway. 

They only take action to look like they're doing something when in fact all they care about is the tourism dollar.

Ed Sanders | 14 July 2016 - 22:20:48

Thailand must have more records and rules and laws on the books than anywhere else, as each time there is a tragedy (i.e. tourist death) Thailand jumps up with new rules to let the world think they are doing something... but they aren't.  They never have, and aren't likely to change now, unless they start to see a loss in tourists dollars.  The issue is, of course, laws and rules do absolu...

Robin Lee | 14 July 2016 - 16:29:01

Why must it always be a death of someone before authorities take serious actions?

Christy Sweet | 14 July 2016 - 15:42:21

Yada,yada yada. Blah,blah blah. Yada,yada,yada. Blah,blah,blah.

Rich 44 | 14 July 2016 - 09:36:58

Some rudimentary first aid training should be included in licensing all operators of amusement features.
I can't help thinking that a simple tourniquet, tied securely around the injured leg, as soon as the youth was lifted into the boat, MAY have saved him from bleeding out.  

skip | 14 July 2016 - 06:21:27

if phuket loses chinese tourists, its the death knell for tourism in phuket. as far as chinese deaths in phuket, the horse has already bolted !! the next deaths will be from parasailor boats at patong beach operating after dark and killing swimmers.they have been instructed not to be in the water after 7pm. warning not heeded and we have video evidence of them operating at 7.15. mind you, its dark...

Hotgem | 13 July 2016 - 20:37:01

Probably will last as long as the buoys at Patong Bay did! 

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