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.
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.