The man, 52, and his 25-year-old son* arrived in Phuket last Sunday (June 30), Capt Warawut Sensob of the Cherng Talay Police told The Phuket News.
The two arrived at the beach at about 2:30pm today and were in the water only five minutes before someone noticed they were in trouble, caught in a rip and being dragged away from shore at the northern end of the beach, he explained.
Local beach-goer Amnad Chuasaman raised the alarm and went into the water to help them, Capt Warawut said.
Mr Amnad reached the son first and brought him ashore. The son was then rushed to Thalang Hospital.
Mr Amnad then went back out into the dangerous surf, but by the time he reached the father, the tourist was already unconscious, face down in the water.
The man was brought back to the beach, but attempts to revive him failed, Capt Warawut explained.
The downing today follows heated warnings by local residents on social media, noting that there are currently no lifeguards stationed at Surin Beach, meaning there are no red flags posted to warn beachgoers where the water is too dangerous to swim.
Local sufers noted that waves today were not as large or strong as they can be at this time of year, but that the rip today was very dangerous.
One local surfer told The Phuket News that he attempted to help a Russian man and his friend in dangerous surf at the beach yesterday, only to be rebuked.
The tourists had entered the water with no understanding of what danger lay lurking in the waves. Soon both the Russian man and his friend combatting the surf with “flailing arms” and returned to the beach “on his hands and knees in the sand… exhausted and bewildered”.
The drowning today also followed the rescue of 25-year-old Thai man Wanchalerm Sata at Surin Beach on Sunday (June 30) and that of a foreign woman dragged away from Karon Beach by a dangerous rip.
Both Mr Wanchalerm and the foreign woman – age, name and nationality not reported – survived and were taken for immediate first aid treatment. (See story here.)
As reported by The Phuket News yesterday, the lack of information about the rescues on Sunday not only highlighted the dire issue of Phuket not having trained lifeguards. It also highlighted that lack of contact persons to pass on critical warnings or report any drownings or rescues carried out in saving tourists’ lives.
The most recent surf-danger warning came from the International Surf Life Saving Association (ISLA), which after contacting the trained and qualified lifeguards at Nai Harn Beach issued a “High Surf Warning” for the Andaman Sea amid dangerous southwest monsoon conditions on June 23. (See story here.)
Early last month, the head of the Phuket Lifeguard Club, whose trained and qualified lifeguards patrol Patong Beach, warned tourists that the change in weather from heavy rain to blue skies overhead did not mean that the surf was safe to enter.
All beach-goers were urged to exercise caution as the southwest monsoon began to churn the surf along the west coast, creating strong waves and moving flash rips. (See story here.)
The death of a tourist today also comes just six days after Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana held a high-profile public meeting with the Chinese Consul General in Songkhla Ma Fengchun and Phuket Chinese Consular Office Vice Consul-General Li Chunfu to highlight how safe and convenient it is for Chinese tourists to come to Phuket. (See story here.)
It also comes just two days since Governor Phakaphong on Monday (July 1) ordered officials to make preparations for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to Phuket next Monday (July 8) to be “perfect”. (See story here.)
* The names of the father and son have been removed at the family's request.