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Report of foreigner in surf danger highlights Phuket’s lifeguard, beach rescue crisis

PHUKET: A report of a foreign man missing in the water at Layan Beach yesterday afternoon has shone a bright light on the critical need for trained lifeguards to patrol Phuket’s beaches and for rescue teams to receive proper training in how to handle such reports and act accordingly.

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By The Phuket News

Wednesday 9 May 2018, 01:27PM


The alarm was raised yesterday afternoon (May 8) by a foreign woman living in the nearby Man Tawan housing estate who reported seeing a man with “fair-skin” and black hair in the water.

“She said that a strong wave about two metres tall hit the man, but she did not see him resurface,” explained Wirut Saman, an official at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation office at the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organisation (OrBorTor).

The DDPM Cherng Talay office is currently tasked with overseeing beach safety at Layan Beach and the adjoining Leypang Beach as currently there are no official lifeguards stationed there.

“The woman told a local Thai resident what she saw, and the Thai person reported it to the DDPM emergency rescue unit on the beach at about 3:30pm,” Mr Wirut explained.

The rescue team quickly began a search for the man, looking for any person in trouble in the water.

Ironically, the initial search area was in front of a popular restaurant still illegally occupying the southern end of 178 rai that the Supreme Court has ruled is state land, despite promises of forced evictions by officials. (See story here.)

However, the search was called hours later off as darkness fell.

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The search resumed this morning, Mr Wirut confirmed, noting at this stage his team believe the man may have returned to the beach safely later, or that the woman might have mistaken what she saw.

“We resumed our search for the man today, and we will keep searching up to 24 hours from the time we received the report,” Mr Wirut said.

“We are still checking with hotels and villa estates in the area to see if any of their guests are missing. Perhaps someone will report to us that the man later returned to the beach safely, or maybe all the woman saw was a piece of wood in the water,” he added.

Suchart Choothong, head of the DDPM Cherng Talay speedboat rescue unit stationed at Layan Beach, explained to The Phuket News that his team has grave concerns for beach safety along Layan and Leypang beaches.

“There area where the man reportedly went missing has no lifeguards on duty,” Mr Suchart explained.

“We don’t have the skills to rescue people in strong surf. Honestly, all we have are just officials who take care of the speedboat rescue unit to support or provide help as best we can.

“We need lifeguards who have the special skills to save people’s lives,” Mr Suchart noted.

 

 

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DeKaaskopp | 10 May 2018 - 19:42:40

Didn't know "Brits"are going for a swim here.Thought most of them would only like to hang out at the bars.

BenPendejo | 10 May 2018 - 10:24:39

Just hang on...it's coming.  As soon as the monsoon seas start, they'll be going down all over...although the Brits seem to have a tad more common sense about evaluating dangerous sea conditions.  Chinese and Russians...not so much.

marcher | 09 May 2018 - 18:31:44

The UK Government warning alerts are quite scathing about Thailand including the political situation, road rail and sea travel, crime including scams, etc, but no mention of beach dangers. Needs a couple of Brits to die first

BenPendejo | 09 May 2018 - 15:54:25

Someone needs to replace the "so-called" lifeguards at Surin. The times I've gone there with my kids I've seen them sleeping or sitting with their backs turned to the sea, not even paying attention to the swimmers.  Such a farce on Phuket beaches.

Kurt | 09 May 2018 - 15:19:24

Forget about Phuket Life guards.
Even the Phuket governor's order about it proved to be a 'Authority joke'.

Just warn the world wide tourists coming for Phuket beaches that beaches here are polluted and not safe guarded.
That reality shows no Phuket Authority/Official give a damn about tourists, only welcome to suck their money.
It is all so thai clear and obvious.

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