No arrests yet in Phuket dive death: Police

PHUKET: Police have yet to make any arrests in the investigation into the death of Japanese tourist Hitomi Shibata, Chalong Police Duty Officer Attawat Suwannarat told the Phuket Gazette this morning.

“We have not arrested or pressed charges against anyone as we still have to question the boat driver and the crew about what happened first,” said Lt Attawat, who is leading the investigation.

Lt Attawat said Miss Shibata, and the friend she was diving with, booked a diving course with a company in Japan that sold tours affiliated through global tourism operator Kon Tiki.

However, after arriving in Phuket, the couple’s dive tour booking was transferred to a local operator as the dive tour originally offered was full, he explained.

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Miss Shibata, her friend and their dive instructor were placed on board the boat Aqua Art 3, belonging to local company Marine Project, along with about 20 other divers, he added.

The three were diving at a depth of about 12 meters at Ao Kluay (“Banana Bay”) off Koh Racha Noi when the accident happened, Lt Attawat said.

“The dive instructor said Hitomi suddenly started floating toward the surface because she accidentally pressed a switch on her suit, which let air into the suit,” he said.

“She died instantly when her head was hit by the propeller of the boat, which was moving slowly to pick up groups of divers back onto the boat,” he added.

“Her body was transferred to a speedboat and rushed back to Chalong Pier, arriving at 2:30pm. It was then taken Vachira Phuket Hospital for further examination,” he said.

— Janpen Upatising

Phuket News

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