The conference was called in response to claims by Ms Werakan’s mother, Chudarasa Siriprakon, that reports of a foreign couple matching their description were seen camping in a tent near Promthep Cape, Phuket’s southernmost point.
The couple seen reportedly had a kayak matching the description of the one that Mr Juszkiewicz and Ms Werakan were last seen using, Ms Chudarasa said in reporting the alleged sighting to Chalong Police during the search for the missing couple, which was “scaled down” last Friday. (See story here.)
Mayor Aroon today said that rumours had been circulating among local residents in Rawai that a couple who looked like Mr Juszkiewicz and Ms Werakan were seen camping with a tent near Bamboo Cape about one kilometer from where they were last seen, about 500 metres from Promthep Cape.
The rumours said the foreign man and Thai woman acted suspiciously, refusing to meet and speak with local people, and that the couple were sleeping in a field tent in forest near the beach with a hammock tied to a pipe and they had one orange boat, Mayor Aroon explained.
“People also said that the couple had a lot of chopped wood beside their tent, which is unusual for tourists,” he added.
“On hearing about this, I ordered Rawai Municipality officials to investigate the claims, but the officers investigating the claims found no trace of the couple reported as seen in the area,” Mayor Aroon said.
“They found a hammock and a tent, but the officers did not check inside the tent,” he added.
However, Mayor Aroon did not explain whether the officers shouted out for a response or even check the area to see if any persons were in the immediate vicinity.
Yet, Mayor Aroon noted, “When this news spread, it caused great skepticism among the villagers. Tourist Police and Chalong Police investigators are checking CCTV footage throughout the area to see if they can find anyone matching the description of the missing couple. This is to clear any doubt about the reports.
“At this time, no one knows where the missing people are. We have not found any bodies, not a paddle, not the boat and not even a life jacket,” he said.
However, Mayor Aroon admitted, “This is a very strange case for people lost on the sea.”
Mayor Aroon added Rawai Municipality held a meeting with Tourist Police Region 3 Commander Maj Gen Krissak Songmoonnak and the rental kayak operators involved in the case to discuss measures to avoid any future disappearances of tourists who rent kayaks to enjoy paddling by themselves unsupervised.
“This includes making sure clear instructions are given, making sure all people renting kayaks wear life jackets and having the people renting the kayaks sign a form confirm they understand what they are doing,” he said.
“This is needed in order to restore tourists’ confidence that renting kayaks is safe and to help make sure this does not happen again. Tourists’ safety is vital,” Mayor Aroon added.