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Mother of missing Russian tourist arrives on Koh Tao

Legacy Phuket Gazette



KOH TAO: The mother of a missing Russian tourist has arrived on the resort island of Koh Tao, while DNA results on bones that were believed to belong to the woman have proved negative.

Despite launching a full-scale land and sea search for Valentina Novozhyonova (story here), authorities have so far failed to find the 23-year-old tourist, who checked into a hotel on Koh Tao on February 11 and went missing four days later.

The search team found five pieces of what was initially thought to be human flesh and bone at the location where she is thought to have gone snorkeling. A green vest and goggles were also discovered about 400 metres from the Ao Chalok Ban Kao beach resort where she was staying.

All of the evidence was sent for DNA tests at the Institute of Forensic Science of the Royal Thai Police. However, the results showed the flesh was not human and a DNA sample from the cloth did not match that of the missing woman.

Following the results, police plan to hold a meeting to discuss the next steps in the search. They are also waiting to question a friend of the woman who has promised to return from the Philippines to meet them next week.

Meanwhile, Surat Thani Provincial Police commander Maj Gen Apichart Boonsriroj said authorities are focusing on ‘water accident’ as the likely cause of the Russian’s mysterious disappearance, based on her social media account ‘preferences’.

“We still give more importance to a water accident than other possible causes. It’s not about crime because Ms Novozhenova [is known to have] liked to do free diving alone,” he said.

She wanted to beat her personal record for diving, indicated as 22 meters in her Facebook post.

“We’ve tried to update the Russian embassy about the search even though they didn’t ask us to do that. We did not find [any] more objects of evidence this morning,” Gen Apichart said on Friday.

— The Nation


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