Connect with us

Phuket

Mystery surrounds deaths of Phuket cave divers at Khao Sok National Park

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

PHUKET: Two experienced Phuket cave divers died after a diving accident on technical rebreathers near the entrance of Tiger Cave in the Chio Lan Reservoir, Surat Thani, on Monday.

Dmitry Dokuchave, 46, died at the scene, while fellow Russian national Alexander Solomatin was pronounced dead at Surat Thani Hospital.

“Both bodies were transferred to Vachira Phuket Hospital, with the preliminary cause of death cited as decompression sickness,” said a Surat Thani Hospital staffer who declined to be named.

The Russians were with two other divers, who altogether had rented out a boat and were using their own dive equipment at the time of the accident, a technical diving school manager who knew the divers explained to the Phuket Gazette.

“They were highly certified technical, rebreather and cave divers who had done many cave dives and rebreather dives before. They knew what they were doing,” said the manager, who declined to be named.

However, something went wrong. The group had split into two teams, with two divers exploring the wall to search for a second entrance to the cave, while the Russians planned to use the main entrance of the cave, which sits at about 24 meters below the surface.

“According to a dive computer used by the Russians, [it looks like] one them probably noticed that something was wrong. He most likely than told his buddy that he would have to abort the dive… and probably told the other diver to continue his dive while he sorted out the problem,” the manger said.

“What the problem was, at this stage, we don’t know,” she added, as she has been in close contact with the two surviving divers.

“According to his [Mr Dokuchave’s] dive computer, he was at about 20 meters [depth] when the problem started, so he wasn’t inside the cave yet. He stayed there for about two minutes, probably trying to fix the problem. Then, according the dive computer profile, he shot up to the surface.”

The two other divers found Mr Dokuchave unconscious on the surface with his rebreather mouthpiece out of his mouth. One of them began emergency rescue procedures.

“Before they found him, [Mr Solomatin] must have known something was wrong… so he would have been looking for him after he had finished his own decompression stops and went back down. This would have probably meant he suffered from decompression sickness, but that needs to be confirmed by a coroner,” the manager said.

The other two divers located Mr Solomatin, and, with the help of Thais working on the lake, rushed him to Surat Thani Hospital.

“We visited [Mr Solomatin] at the hospital,” said Surat Thani Vice Governor Witchawut Jinto. “Doctors did their best to save him, but they just couldn’t.”

“This is a sad accident. I am deeply sorry for their families.”

V/Gov Witchawut said that officers would be moving to close the dive sites in the Chio Lan Reservoir to tourists, leaving it open only for scientific efforts.

“We do not want to see such accidents in the future, the reservoir is not a diving area for tourists. We will look at what measures can be taken to prevent such accidents in the future,” he said.

The reservoir encompassed by Khao Sok National park is well known and well used by the Phuket dive community. It is regularly used for recreational diving, as well as for certifying cave divers, as some of the caves are relatively easy to penetrate – providing excellent opportunities for training.

“Tiger Cave is a more difficult cave. All the divers were full cave certified, so they knew what they were doing and had been there before,” said the manager.

“However, it should be taken into account that the accident did not happen inside the cave, so that wasn’t the problem. This might have been a problem with the rebreather, but we need to be sure about this.”

Additional reporting by Kritsada Mueanhawong

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

 

Want more from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Thaiger Talk Forums.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Vietnam strikes deal to manufacture vaccines, but which brand?

Crime5 hours ago

Motorbike thieves arrested after a million baht of bikes stolen

Tourism8 hours ago

300 tourism businesses given SHA Plus certification in Phuket

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Chiang Rai8 hours ago

Police warn child pornography is a serious matter after teacher caught downloading clips

Weather9 hours ago

Tropical storm Koguma brings heavy rain to North, Northeast

Thailand9 hours ago

(Another) poll (also) shows Thais’ lack of confidence in vaccine campaign

Politics10 hours ago

Despite rumours, PM and goverment not planning early election

Thailand10 hours ago

Thai PM not happy with soccer gambling

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Doctors demand the government be more honest about Covid-19

Songkhla12 hours ago

Songkhla officials investigate pricey street lamps

Crime12 hours ago

Illegal casino operator accused of 4 charges including murder

Thailand12 hours ago

Survey shows lack of confidence in Government’s handling of vaccinations

Thailand13 hours ago

Goverment kind of discloses what the secret budget is spent on

Weather13 hours ago

Penis statue works as village sees rain after erection

Eastern Thailand14 hours ago

Man busted for allegedly possessing over 100 marijuana plants, selling marijuana online

Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism3 months ago

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

Phuket3 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending