Maj Ekachai Siri of the Phuket Tourist Police told The Phuket News today (Dec 23) that the specific search efforts for the pair ended on Friday – just two days after Consular Section Chief of the Polish Embassy in Thailand, Jakub Budohoski, travelled to Phuket and held a meeting on Dec 17 at the search centre at Yanui Beach, where the couple disappeared on their rented kayak.
Mr Budohoski stated that, on behalf of the Consulate and Embassy, he was extremely grateful for all the efforts so far. He requested the search be maintained until the couple are found and that new areas are continually explored. (See story here.)
Maj Ekachai confirmed that search efforts were greatly scaled down after five days of intensive searches by air and sea.
“The full search efforts by helicopters and extra boats were scaled down on Dec 12,” Maj Ekkachai said today.
During the five days, from Dec 8-12, a Royal Thai Navy helicopter and a Tourist Police helicopter together launched 18 search missions, while the search boats conducted 34 search missions and ground teams conducted a total of 50 search missions along coastal areas, Maj Ekkachai said.
Regardless, Maj Ekkachai refused to confirm that the search for the missing couple had now been called off.
Instead, he offered, “The search has not stopped. The intensity of the search has been reduced… All those involved in the search have now returned to their regular duties, and will of course keeping looking for while performing their regular work.”
Maj Ekkachai explained that the intensive search efforts were scaled down on Dec 12 after the Royal Thai Navy, Phuket Marine Police and others scoured the search area, which on paper was expanded to cover 600 square nautical miles – nearly 2,059 square kilometres.
“We already worked to our full capacity already in the search, but we could not find them or any clue of what might have happened,” he said.
“Even in the last efforts before before Dec 12, Royal Thai Navy officials added extra patrols of small islands. After that (Dec 12), both families began their own plans to search for the missing couple,” Maj Ekkachai said.
“Intensive search efforts will resume if either family finds something or any evidence such as a life jacket, the kayak or something else from the missing couple is found as it would lead to finding them. We will support them [the families] to find the missing couple,” Capt Ekkachai said.
Anongkan Srisupat, a friend of Ms Werakan’s family, confirmed to The Phuket News this morning that her understanding is that the search efforts have concluded.
“The search was suspended on Friday (Dec 20) after the search had continued for many days,” she said.
“On Friday, we went to Chalong Police Station again to get a copy of the investigation documents, which includes records of interviews with all the members of the group who went kayaking [with Mr Juszkiewicz and Ms Werakan on Dec 7] and other details.
“The families will use this for making their own new plans later,” she added.
Mr Juszkiewicz’s sisters, Malgorzata Juszkiewicz and Monika Tyszkiewicz, departed Phuket to Poland at 8pm on Friday (Dec 20), Ms Anonkan said.
“They will come back and make new plan to search search again after Christmas Day. They needed a break to clear other things in their lives. They will come back to make a new search plan, but I am not sure when they will return,” she explained
Ms Chudarasa Siriprakon, the mother of Ms Werakan, will leave Phuket at 6pm today (Dec 23), Ms Anongkan also noted.
“She has to go back home to Ayutthaya province to clear her work and other things,” Ms Anongkan said.
“She will come back to Phuket again, then we will start drawing up our plans to search in Trang and Satun [south of Phuket]. We believe that Mr Juszkiewicz and Ms Werakan might have ended up there,” she said.
“Ms Chudarasa remains sad over what has happened, but she still has hope her daughter is alive,” she added.
Meanwhile, Polish private detective Krzysztof Rutkowski arrived in Phuket on Saturday (Dec 21) to begin his investigation, Ms Anongkan confirmed.
“He came to find information about the search efforts. He is not from the Polish embassy, he might have been brought in by the Polish family, but I really have no idea what he will do,” Ms Anongkan said.