The Syrian, named by lifeguards as Wael Zakhour, 40, arrived in Phuket today for an eight-day stay at the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Hotel in Karon.
He and six friends walked across from the hotel to the beach and ran into the sea despite red flags and warning whistle-blasts from lifeguards.
Almost immediately they were in trouble. Three lifeguards ran into water with flotation devices. They rescued four of the tourists, while another two managed to make it back to the beach on their own.
Mr Zakhour, however, had been dragged by currents further out to sea than his friends. A jet-ski was sent to get him but, despite the rescuers’ best efforts with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR, he could not be revived.
Karon Beach Chief Lifeguard Uten Singsom told The Phuket News, “It was too late for him; he was already unconscious in the water when we reached him. We tried to revive him but we couldn’t get him breathing again.
“The ambulance came very fast but he still died on the way to Patong hospital.”