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Mystery illness kills foreign tourists on Phi Phi

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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KRABI: Two foreign tourists have mysteriously died and two others are seriously ill from unknown causes after holidaying on Phi Phi Island.

Much speculation surrounds the circumstances of the deaths as authorities have yet to make any official statements regarding the matter.

Press Attache at the US Embassy in Bangkok Michael Turner told the Gazette that US citizen Jill St. Onge, 26, died on May 2, shortly after being taken to hospital by her boyfriend Ryan Kells, who also fell ill.

Both tourists were vomiting severely before Miss St. Onge’s admission to hospital.

Her family have set up a blog website to publicize the story. Writing on that site, Mr Kells said he suspected the air conditioning in their hotel room was responsible for making them ill and believes he survived because he had spent less time in the room than Miss St. Onge.

… I kept getting these breaks from the air in the room, while Jill kept staying in bed. She was exposed to the air in the room for probably five or six more hours than I was,” he wrote.

The following day, two Norwegian women in the same guesthouse developed the same symptoms.

The Norwegian Ambassador to Thailand, Merete Brattested, confirmed that Julie Michelle Bergheim, 22, died on May 4.

Her friend is recovering at Bangkok Phuket Hospital. However, hospital staff refused to give out any information apart from confirming that a seriously ill Norwegian female had been admitted but she would not receive visitors or speak to anyone.

Phi Phi Island Hospital Director Dr Buncha Khakong said that the cause of both deaths is being investigated by the Department of Disease Control in Bangkok.

I guessed something they consumed caused them to die but I cannot say clearly until we receive the lab results,” he said.

A police inquiry is now under way. The bodies of both of the deceased are understood to have been sent to Bangkok for autopsy.

A local blog had readers of the ThaiVisa.com forum in a furore following publication of a report in which it was suggested that one of the deceased women had been drinking heavily in the hours leading up to her death, an assertion which the woman’s fiance vehemently knocks back. The blogger has since deleted the report from his Web.

Meanwhile, the popular ThaiVisa site was abuzz with speculation as to the true cause, or causes, of the serial tragedies on Phi Phi. Poisoned drinks, faulty air conditioning, carbon monoxide and chemicals from a water treatment plant have all been mentioned as possible causes.

For details of the “shoot now/aim later” report filed earlier today on the blog, and to keep abreast of developments as they unfold on Phi Phi Island, Gazette readers may wish to scan through the ThaiVisa postings here. Or visit the Phuket Gazette/ThaiVisa Phuket Forum for other developments and news related to the Andaman region.

— Kamol Pirat / Marc Mulloy

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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