The call by PLC President Prathaiyut Chueayuan for greater action to save lives follows a horror week in which five people, including three tourists, died after succumbing to the powerful waves, and one Russian tourist was rescued from the Phuket surf in just six days.
“Most of the victims are tourists who ignored the red ‘no swimming’ flags and warning signs and lifeguards verbal warnings,” Mr Prathaiyut told The Phuket News.
“But did they really know how dangerous the Andaman Sea is during the southwestern monsoon? Tour guides and hotel and resort staff should warn their customers and guests about how dangerous the sea is at this time of year.”
Mr Prathaiyut said that he understood that many tourists paid a lot of money to come to Phuket and wanted to enjoy the beach during their holiday here.
“Some days the weather is still good enough to be on the beach, and when they see the beautiful beach and alluring colour of the sea, it is hard for them to resist going into the water.
“But they might not be aware of the danger of the sea in the monsoon season and simply ignore the warnings,” he said.
Mr Prathaiyut urged all beach-goers, tourists and locals alike, to heed warnings by lifeguards. “And especially so after lifeguards have ended their beach patrols, which are from 8:30am till 6:30pm,” he said.
He also called on local officials to do more to warn swimmers.
“If tourists realized how dangerous it is, they would be more careful with their own lives. It is a very sensitive issue as we have no legal right to prevent anyone from going into the sea,” Mr Prathaiyut added.
Phuket’s deadly week in the water began on August 11, when Singaporean tourist Seah Chin Hin, 53, collapsed and later died after swimming during a day trip to a beach near Koh Khai Nui, northwest of Phuket.
Mr Seah managed to clamber aboard his tour party’s speedboat and tell his son that he had choked underwater before collapsing unconscious.
Mr Seah was sped to Mission Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival of heart failure and an obstructed pulmonary system. (See story here.)
The next day South Korean tourist Seung Jinseo, 46, disappeared from Kata Noi Beach as he was swept away from shore by strong waves. His body was recovered off Koh Pu, immediately offshore from Karon Beach, two days later. (See story here.)
Yet, the day before Mr Seung’s body was found another South Korean tourist, Qi Dhun Hua, 43, drowned at Karon beach. Mr Qi was pronounced dead on arrival at Patong Hospital, though luckily his daughter, not named by the authorities, survived. (See story here.)
Then last Saturday (August 15), the day after Mr Seung’s body was found, Russian tourist Pavel Ugai, 24, was pulled from the surf at Surin beach. After days recovering at Thalang Hospital, Mr Ugai was discharged from medical care, lucky to be still alive. (See story here.)
Swiss expat Ernst Krummenacher, 71, was not so lucky. The six-year resident of Phuket collapsed while fighting strong waves at Nai Harn Beach last Sunday morning (August 16).
His son, Dion, told police that his father had suffered a heart attack while in the water, but no one could get to him in time before he succumbed to the waves. (See story here.)
By Sunday night, Myanmar national Thi Da, 38, was found on Patong Beach, an apparent victim of the strong surf. Despite efforts by a lifeguard at the scene to revive her, she was pronounced dead on arrival at Patong Hospital. (See story here.)
Kathu Police Deputy Superintendent Lt Col Akanit Darnpitaksarn later told The Phuket News that her relatives had explained that Ms This Da was known to suffer bouts of deep depression brought on by her struggle against debt.
Police have subsequently deemed her death as suicide by Phuket surf.