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Phuket beach deaths: Airlines, airport could help cut the toll

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket beach deaths: Airlines, airport could help cut the toll | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The full onset of this year’s monsoon season has brought with it a sadly predictable rise in the number of drowning deaths, most among foreign tourists who ignored not only the red warning flags, but also, in some cases, verbal warnings from lifeguards about the dangers.

The latest casualty was a Romanian tourist who, like so many before him, entered the surf unaware of the magnitude of the risk. (See front page story, current [July 31] issue of the Phuket Gazette. Digital subscribers click here.)

Reporting the never-ending string of drowning deaths is depressing work indeed. Most of the victims are here on holiday, often with family and friends whose Phuket experience turns into a nightmare in a matter of moments.

Equally depressed must be the island’s 17 honorary consuls. Almost all of them have had to personally experience dealing with bereaved families, arranging funeral services or repatriating the remains of people who, in many cases, were in the prime of life when they were dragged out to sea for their holiday death.

But the depression experienced by local journalists and volunteer diplomatic staff pales in comparison to that of the island’s lifeguards, whose frustration boiled over last week with an unprecedented charge against hotel owners on the island for not doing enough to warn their guests of the dangers.

While it is unrealistic to expect to reduce the number of drowning deaths to zero, we need to do our best to come up with new ways to get the message across to tourists about how treacherous surf conditions can be at this time of year.

Red flags, verbal warnings and signs are obviously not enough. Their intended messages are sadly ignored on an island where newcomers’ senses are constantly bombarded with garish commercial signage and rude, in-your-face touting.

That being the case, here are some ideas that might help get the needed message across.

First, and as recommended in this space several times in the past, would be to have the captains of incoming commercial flights to clearly spell out the dangers over their PA systems.

Tourists enjoying a day at the beach might tune out the lifeguards along with trinket vendors and time-share touts, but they are likely to heed the words of an airline pilot while they sit captive at 30,000 feet.

Most, if not all, airlines bound for Thailand warn passengers of the death penalty for drugs. But for the millions of holidaymakers arriving in Phuket, the risk of death by drowning is surely far, far greater.

Second, create a “memorial wall” to tourists whose lives have been needlessly lost. Don’t put it on some beach, but inside the baggage pick-up area at the airport, along with a video presenting the grim statistics and other relevant information. While this might not be the most uplifting of starts to a tourist’s visit, it would certainly help reduce the body count in our annual monsoon harvests of beach death.

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

Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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Thailand

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC

The Thaiger

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Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | The Thaiger

The upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night event in Abu Dhabi will feature Thailand’s only national marking her third fight with the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts competition. 24 year old Loma Lookboonme, from Burirram in northeastern Thailand, will fight in the event on October 3, 2020.

Loma is a Muay Thai fighter who has adapted her MMA skills to fight in the UFC where she currently trains at the Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket. Loma qualified for the national team at the age of 19 and has fought in over 12 nations worldwide. She currently trains 6 days a week starting daily at 6:30am with a 3 kilometre run. In the UFC, she will be competing against China’s Angela Lee who is the undisputed champion of the 52 kilogram fist weight category.

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | News by The Thaiger

Loma’s parents are former Muay Thai fighters and her 2 sisters currently compete as well. She reportedly started training at 8 years old after being inspired by her father, whom she describes as her “hero.”

Like most Thais in such fighting sports, Muay Thai offers a way to rise out of poverty-and fighting for the UFC can be financially lucrative. But Loma says her only Thai sponsor is the gym where she trains, with the rest of her sponsors being from foreign brands. She says she is trying to get more Thai sponsors but feels that maybe she needs to win the UFC first before Thai brands notice her.

Loma lost her last fight and says her new opponent gives her nothing to lose. She says her goal is to get into the Top 10, but is not sure when it will happen. Loma says for now, it would be good to fight against someone in the Top 10 to help her prepare for her future.

FULL INTERVIEW: Thisrupt.co

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Tourism

Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs | The Thaiger

Phuket Airport is officially ready for tourists as authorities say they have finished installing Covid screening labs in an effort to welcome international travellers. The 5T Model for Covid-19 is being used at the airport with the goal of screening large groups of people in a quick and efficient manner. The Phuket health chief says the 5T’s stand for Target, Testing, Treating, Trusting and Tracing.

Phuket has one large airport at the north end of the island but is separated into two separate terminals – a domestic terminal (the original airport terminal), and a new international terminal opened in 2016.

The target category refers to the target groups of tourists while the tracing stands for software that will be used to monitor their movements. The testing category refers to Covid tests that will be implemented to travellers upon arrival along with the treatment and trust categories signifying the readiness of resources for medical treatment and confident communications between all parties respectively.

The Covid-19 lab container module has been set up at Phuket airport’s Terminal X (the terminal opened for charter flights opened in 2014) and will be tested tomorrow with its operation to start on September 30. As large groups of tourists could arrive (later in the year, the lab is reportedly capable of testing 96 people at a time with test results becoming available in 6 hours. What the airport would do withe tested passengers whilst waiting for 6 hours, has not been detailed at this stage.

Such a readiness plan to welcome foreign tourists originally singled out Phuket due to its popularity with travellers, and as a so-called guinea pig model to test in a controlled environment (Phuket is an island joined to the Thai mainland by a single 300 metre road bridge). Once dubbed the Phuket Model, authorities have proposed to rename the plan to “Special Tourist Visa” due to the confusion and opposition it reportedly caused. The scheme is reportedly now being proposed for all areas of Thailand but only allowing foreigners from specific countries.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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