Somprasong Saengchat of the Phuket Lifeguard Service (PLS), who serves as the chief lifeguard at Patong Beach, told The Phuket News this afternoon, "Tourists can still enjoy the water but only in areas where the yellow and red flags are flying.
"However, areas where the red flags are flying should be avoided at all costs.
“People are still able swim at Patong Beach as we have 26 lifeguards and volunteers looking after beach safety,” he said.
“The weather is not too worrying right now. The waves are still fine, there are no rip currents. If the rip currents begin to occur I will set up red flags to warn tourists,” Mr Somprasong added.
Daren Jenner, Warrant Marine Safety Officer - Phuket Specialist for the International Surf Lifesaving Association (ISLA) warned that swimming between the flags is imperative at Kamala, Laem Singh, Surin, Bang Tao, Layan, Leypang, NaiThon, Nai Yang and Mai Khao beaches.
“Short period swells are producing one to 1.5 metre surf,” he said.
“There are dangerous shorebreaks and rip currents. Flash rip currents are possible at any time,” he added.
“Watch for sudden squalls which can produce high winds and sudden increase in wave height. Beware of lightning with these squalls. If thunder roars, go indoors, wait 30 minutes with no thunder before going back outside.
“All the above beaches remain without qualified lifeguards. ISLA recommends expert surfers only at the above beaches,” Mr Jenner cautioned.
“ISLA recommends NO SWIMMING for the general public,” he added.
Regarding lifeguard coverage at the beaches, Bangkok-based consultancy LP Laikhum Co Ltd was contracted to cover under a government concession to provide lifeguards at Surin, Bang Tao and Mai Khao beaches.
However, coverage is fairly thin, with six lifeguards stationed at Surin, 11 at Bang Tao and just five to cover the 11-kilometre-long Mai Khao Beach – easily Phuket’s longest stretch of sand.
Further, serious doubts have been raised as to the skills the lifeguards have and LP Laikhum Managing Director Dr Nutpol Sirisawang has already voiced his concern that his lifeguards do not properly equipped to carry out rescues. (See story here.)
Also, at last report Rawai and Karon beaches have lifeguards hired by local municipalities, but there were no lifeguards on patrol at Kamala, Layan or Leypang beaches, and only volunteers at Nai Thon and Nai Yang beaches.
The Thailand Meteorological Department (TMD) earlier today issued a severe weather alert for multiple provinces across Southern Thailand.
Southern provinces to be affected include Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Ranong, Surat Thani (including Koh Samui), Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Phatthalung and Songkhla.
According Thai Meteorological Department, the tropical depression over the middle South China Sea was centered about 250 kilometeres east of Da Nang, Vietnam and Hainan Island, China.
The monsoon trough lies across the lower North, the upper Central and the Northeast to the tropical depression over the middle South China Sea. The southwest monsoon prevails over the Andaman Sea, the South and the Gulf of Thailand is strange cause more rain and isolated heavy in the North, the Northeast, the Central, the East and the South.
It will bring more heavy rains to the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman region during June 5-8.
“People should beware of severe weather and possible flash floods. All transport should proceed with caution,” the warning says.
Wave heights are expected to be between two-to-three meters high and even four metres and higher within storm systems.
All ship captains are advised to monitor the weather forecast closely and proceed with caution, while smaller vessels are advised to stay ashore.
See more here.