PHUKET: A Russian tourist, hell-bent on snorkeling despite warnings, was rescued and brought to shore this morning after being lost at sea for at least ten hours off Koh Racha Noi.
“Four Russian tourists, named by police as Artem Tarasenko, 45; Sergey Larichev, 40; Valeruu Iakunin, 40; and Dmitrii Somov, 48, rented a speed boat with Thai captain Rittiron Saleeka, 32, for snorkeling and fishing,” Lt Sakarin Saengjaroen of Chalong Police told the Phuket Gazette.
Capt Rittiron took the boat from Rawai Pier at about 9:30am yesterday and arrived at a snorkeling spot near Koh Racha Noi.
“The captain told us that he repeatedly warned the tourists that the waves were too strong and that they should avoid snorkeling, but they insisted that they had done it before at the same spot and kept on arguing until he agreed to let them snorkel,” said Lt Sakarin.
The tourists jumped in the water without life jackets and instructed the captain to hold the boat at the tip of the island about 80 meters away.
“Mr Rittiron waited for 30 minutes, but the tourists were nowhere to be found. He then went back to the drop-off point where he found Mr Tarasenko. Some time later, a fishing boat arrived with both Mr Larichev and Mr Iakunin on board – they had been picked up nearby,” he added.
Mr Somov, however, had disappeared. The Tourist Police, who were informed of the incident at about 2pm, notified the Navy and Marine Department for help. The search lasted until 7pm, but to no avail.
“At about 11pm, a fishing boat named Sirinamchok 8 found him about 200 meters away from the snorkeling drop off point. They administered first-aid and dropped him off this morning, at about 8:30, at the Fish Marketing Organization pier in Rassada,” confirmed Lt Sakarin.
“He did not have any cuts or bruises, but was taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital for a checkup as he had spent several hours in the sea,” he added. “We will question him further when he recovers.”
— Kritsada Mueanhawong
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