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Missing in action

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Missing in action | The Thaiger

PATONG: A sailor from the visiting Australian frigate HMAS Newcastle, feared to have drowned early yesterday in the surf off Patong, apparently had a miracle escape – he resurfaced later in the day, 15 kilometers inland, at a soccer match at Surakul Stadium. A full-scale search for the sailor, named by police as “James”, was sparked after his companion for the evening, 25-year-old Nok-iang Namsiwad, called police in the wee hours to say that, against her advice, “James” had decided to take a dip in the sea not far from the end of Soi Bangla. He had not returned, the worried bar girl reported. Pol Lt Col Narong Naetbud, Inspector of Phuket Marine Police, told the Gazette that a rescue vessel with five frogmen was immediately launched to search for the missing sailor. They found no sign of him. Col Narong said that “James” had been drinking earlier in Patong with his shipmates. “As the evening went on, he met Nok-iang,” Col Narong said. “They came to an agreement whereby she would step out with him in return for a payment of about 2,000 baht.” The two drank a beer together, he said, then went for a walk on the beach. They sat for a while on the sand, then “James” announced that he was going for a swim. When he failed to return after 20 minutes, Nok-iang raised the alarm. The Australian Navy was informed and the search was launched. After about 90 minutes, the search was called off for the night, with plans being made to look in daylight for the inevitable corpse. Pol Capt Punya Chaichana of the Phuket Marine Police explained, “Before the second search in the afternoon, Col Narong received a call from the Australian Navy that “James” was alive and well, and was currently at a friendly soccer match between the Australian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet at Surakul Stadium.” Police officers accompanied Nok-iang to the stadium, where she identified her missing paramour. Capt David Thomas, skipper of the Newcastle, told the Gazette, “By a process of elimination we worked out who the sailor was. We’d seen him ashore and we were convinced that he was okay. Obviously, he had come ashore a few yards up the beach.” “I’d like to say that the girl did a really sterling job; and the Thai organization that went into assisting the search was absolutely outstanding.” Declining to name the sailor, Capt Thomas said he doubted a police theory that “James” went for a swim as a graceful way of breaching his agreement with Nok-Iang. “I don’t believe that’s the case,” he said. “Why he went into the water, I have no idea, and I guess, at the end of the day, I don’t really want to know.”

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Tourism

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

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Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO | The Thaiger

There was the original Covid-19 outbreak and lockdowns back in April and May in 2020, then again just before Christmas and New Year when the new clusters emerged in Samut Sakhon and the eastern coastal provinces, Patong’s nightlife was quiet enough, almost non-existent.

Now when the restrictions are lifted, Nimz will take you through Phuket’s famous nightlife spot Bangla Road, Patong Beach and Phuket Town. It’s quiet, but there are still clubs open and operating and ready to welcome you.

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Expats

Deceased Phuket expat’s body stuck in hospital due to passport mix-up

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Deceased Phuket expat’s body stuck in hospital due to passport mix-up | The Thaiger

In a nightmarish scenario, a deceased Phuket expat’s body is stuck in a Thai hospital as his step‐daughter claims hospital administrators won’t release the body due to a passport mix‐up.

Gemma Swift, the step‐daughter of 75 year old David Donoghue, who died 2 weeks ago, says she is pleading with embassy staff in Thailand to resolve, what she says, is purely an administrative issue after Donoghue’s passport number at the hospital was from that of an expired one.

Donoghue’s current passport was on file with the British Embassy, but because it did not match what the hospital had, his body has remained at the hospital. Swift says it was something that could easily be corrected and the situation was “horrendous” for the family.

“The British Embassy over in Bangkok, they said that because [the number] was from his current passport, they were unable to change the letter. They have said that they won’t reissue a letter with the passport number that he’s got in the hospital with him.”

She said her family planned to arrange a funeral for him in Thailand, then bring his ashes back to the UK. As he retired to Phuket 15 years ago, her family would then take his ashes back to Thailand, as per his wishes, to scatter them.

However, none of his family members were able to travel to Thailand to be with Donoghue in his final days, as the mandatory 14 day quarantine period upon entering Thailand, would not have allowed them to see him.

“I thought this was a basic human right to be able to give somebody a funeral and I accept that there is always going to be red tape…but please just issue a letter and let us bring him home.”

She said before Covid-19, family members travelled often to Phuket to visit Donoghue, who once worked for the Thai tourist police. She says the entire ordeal has been heartbreaking as her family was unable to say goodbye.

“That on its own was heart breaking, and now to get this two weeks later, to find out we can’t give him a funeral, or get his ashes back, it’s just horrendous.”

“It’s like being on autopilot… once we know we have done everything we can, we can start the grieving process, but at the minute we can’t.”

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said they are assisting Donoghue’s family during the difficult time.

“Our staff are in contact with the local hospital and funeral director to help his family obtain the necessary paperwork to ensure his body is treated in line with their wishes.”

If the situation isn’t fixed, Donoghue’s body will join a mass cremation at the hospital.

SOURCE: BBC News

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

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Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | The Thaiger

In today’s Thailand News Today…. The island of Phuket has a firm plan to get its residents vaccinated leading up to an October opening for tourists, the Thai PM backs up his police over last Sunday’s protest violence and Thai Airway’s employee union criticises the changes to employee contracts.

But the plan must be approved by the national government by April, if the province wants to open tourism by October 1. Phuket has a resident population of around 300- 400,000 people.

Before you go rushing off to book your plane tickets we’d stress that this is another in a long list of proposals that have not come to fruition and we’d urge patience until the Government approves the plans.

Meanwhile the island has taken delivery of 4,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine. Vaccinations started yesterday, with priority given to 1,500 healthcare workers and 500 “at-risk” officials exposed to Covid-19 patients.

On a broader note… Thailand’s Tourism Minister says he has asked the Public Health Ministry to approve a vaccine passport scheme aimed at reviving Thailand’s devastated tourism sector. According to the Minister, the government is looking to the World Health Organisation to issue a statement on vaccine passports before it makes a final decision on the matter.

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police action against protesters taking part in Sunday’s anti-government rally in Bangkok. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau used tear gas, a water cannon and rubber bullets in an effort to drive protesters back from the PM’s residence. The PM insists the actions were in line with international standards. He says that police did not violate the protesters’ rights.

Thai researchers are claiming that horseshoe bats are not responsible for transmitting the Covid virus to humans. A researcher with the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases-Health Science Centre, says that even though the bats have tested positive for a coronavirus, it is not the strain that is transmissible to humans, and it’s certainly not the virus that causes Covid-19.

As Thai Airways tries to sell new contracts and conditions to its remaining workforce, the labour union of the national carrier is challenging changes to the employment contracts, where Thai Airways employees are being asked to agree to changes as part of the bigger financial rehabilitation program.

But a union representative says the new contracts are unfair because it includes fewer leave days and shorter holidays. The union has filed a complaint with the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare.

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