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Opinion: The day my best friend drowned on a Phuket day tour

A tourist to Phuket implores the Royal Thai Government to take steps to improve marine safety after he is forced to watch his best friend die from drowning while on a popular speedboat day-trip tour to the islands of Phang Nga Bay.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 26 April 2018, 11:06AM

All that remains of Mr Patel's best friend Shahzad Warsani is his death certificate, after he drowned while on a snorkelling tour booked in Phuket.

All that remains of Mr Patel's best friend Shahzad Warsani is his death certificate, after he drowned while on a snorkelling tour booked in Phuket.

I am writing in regards to my concerns related to safety and emergency situations in Thai tourist regions.

I, Danish Pyarali Patel, and my best friend Shahzad Sultan Ali Warsani visited Thailand in March for a holiday in Phuket. On March 24 we went on a day trip. We booked a very popular one-day trip to see Phi Phi Island and Khai Nai Island by speedboat. We booked that with one of many local tour companies in Phuket.

I have to admit the scenery was beautiful, but we have huge concerns about health and safety training and procedures of staff on the boat as well as beaches.

On the last stop at Khai Nai Island, my friend Shahzad drowned and passed away. My friend drowned because he was not being watched over. The waves were a bit rough and he was unstable in the water while snorkelling at Khai Island. (Death certificates sent to The Phuket News confirm the cause of death as drowning with Mr Shahzad not suffering any other medical conditions. He was 33 years old.)

The tour guide and staff on the boat had no emergency procedures. They did not know how to do first aid and CPR. We could not get information from them about if they had phoned for an ambulance or asked for help other government institutions (police, sea guards, etc).

In the end, tourists got involved and tried to save Shahzad by doing CPR. We insisted on our boat tour guide to use the boat to go to the nearest port where an ambulance could be waiting for us, which he agreed to do after few minutes.

Over 30 minutes after the accident we got to Phuket, and an ambulance was waiting to help. Unfortunately my best friend had died.

As I know dozens of millions of tourists visit Thailand each year and I believe these numbers are growing, as Thailand is highly desired place to see.

My concern and request is to draw the attention of the Thai government to safety issues regarding tourism in Thailand.

I understand that there are no perfect solutions and accidents will happen all the time but I can see room for improvements.

These improvements are sometimes very basic things to correct. For example:

- A small emergency response centre should be established with a doctor and a nurse who can save precious life.

- At least one staffer with first-aid training should be on each boat and beach as a mandatory requirement (I have noticed there are more than 20 local people working on each beach we visited). This solution is not cost effective for the government but gives opportunity for local companies to improve their services and protect people’s precious lives.

- We did pay a fee to the local government to access Phi Phi Island as it is a part of national park. I believe that some of this revenue can be spent not only on preserving nature but also protecting people, and I think a helicopter ambulance is a huge need in the area between Phuket and Krabi.

- In the regions with high tourist ratio a person who answers emergency 112 number should be able to communicate in English.

- Education programs or systems should be introduced that will help local people to understand the importance of saving lives and of taking action quickly. It is not good PR for Thailand when tourists have to do CPR, when local staff just stare and do not know how to help.

I understand that the Thai government constantly works on citizens’ and tourists’ safety and I trust this letter could be encouragement to improve situation even more.

Should you need more information about incident please do not hesitate to contact me.

Danish P Patel




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chris007 | 27 April 2018 - 03:42:13

if you dont want to die on holidays: dont get on a bus or minibus - dont get on a jet ski or parasail - dont swim in the water - dont get on a boat - dont get drunk & fight with security - dont cross the road unsafely - dont ride a scooter - dont buy drugs - dont drink the water - apart from that, have a super holiday in your hotel room.
if you dont want to get ripped off - stay there!

Pauly44 | 26 April 2018 - 17:02:31

It's not even a consideration, best leave your tourist dollars on the tarmac and depart swiftly if you think authorities give a hoot about tourist welfare. 

Xonax | 26 April 2018 - 15:29:44

Unfortunately Tourist safety is not available in Thailand.

Discover Thainess | 26 April 2018 - 13:56:37

What a terrible tragedy, and the author of this letter is of course quite correct. Not only did he pay entry fees he also paid tourist room tax at his hotel. One can see by the number of new BMWs and Benz on the roads of phuket that the money is here, sadly it is not spent on tourist safety. To train the boat crews would cost buttons but the owners seem not to care. And the lifeguard farce....

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