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Russian tourist saved from Phuket killer rip, flash warning issued

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Russian tourist saved from Phuket killer rip, flash warning issued | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: A proposal to post “Double Red Flag Rip Current” warnings at Phuket beaches gained momentum yesterday after a fit Russian tourist ignored a red warning flag and was caught in a flash rip, leading to a daring and dangerous rescue by members of the Surin-Bangtao Surf Lifesaving Club.

The incident prompted lifeguards to issue a flash rip warning at all west and south facing beaches along Phuket’s west coast.

Lifeguards were on patrol only 150 meters away as the unsuspecting swimmer ignored the red flags and warning signs on Surin Beach and headed for deeper water, one lifeguard explained to the Phuket Gazette.

“As soon as he entered the water, two surf rescue lifeguards were on their way to warn him. But by the time they arrived, it was already too late. The intended warning had become a serious rescue situation,” he said.

The Russian man had jumped directly into a flash rip current, which is a hidden “river” of water flowing swiftly out to sea. Often these rip currents are present where the waves are smaller, and to the untrained eye this may look like a good place to enter the water.

Onlookers watched as the two experienced lifeguards reached the victim, and began to tow him to shore. All three were pounded by heavy surf for nearly six minutes as they made their way back to safety.

“The outgoing tide bumped the existing rip current up to incredible strength and speed. The escape area to tow the victim to shore was very narrow, if we missed it there was another rip on the other side which was pulling through exposed rocks. It was a very dangerous situation. It could have taken us all,” said one of the lifeguards who carried out the difficult rescue.

Phuket’s lifeguards and ocean safety experts are beginning to understand more clearly how, and when, beach swimming conditions are most severe and likely to result in tragedy. Entering the ocean in the wrong spot during this time of year will almost certainly result in trouble for all except expert surfers and lifeguards.

“My idea is to identify when all the danger factors co-exist, and issue a ‘Double Red Flag Rip Current’ warning, in the hope that people will take the danger more seriously,” said the lifeguard.

“The flags will have international symbols for ‘No Swimming’ and ‘Rip Current’ clearly visible. If we can clearly mark the rip current areas and keep swimmers from going there, we can save lives, maybe even our own,” the rescuing lifeguard said.

The lifeguard explained that the main danger factors that create killer rips were:

– High tidal variations of over 2.4 meters, which usually occur in the two days on either side of a full moon

– Surf one meter and above with high wave frequency

– Persistent southwest monsoon winds above 20 km/hr

– Sunny, fair weather

“If the first three exist, but the weather is raining and stormy, most tourists avoid the beach, and we are usually spared,” explained the lifeguard. “But if the weather is sunny, we know there will be swimmers trying to enter the water. If they enter near the rip, it is almost certain they will be in trouble right away.”

Another factor is that the “low” season of yesteryear, when few people entered the water, is now the “green” season. During this time of year the number of beachgoers and swimmers has markedly increased along with record numbers of tourist arrivals on Phuket.

“All beach hotels large and small, as well as the media, should be warning their customers of the severe danger which we predict will last until this coming Wednesday, and then begin to ease. Many hotels have an ‘in-house’ television channel which would be perfect for displaying the warning,” said the lifeguard.

“If everyone does not take this seriously, I fear more lives may be threatened or lost over the next five days,” he added.

The warning applies to all west and south facing beaches on Phuket, and especially Layan, Bang Tao, Surin, Laem Sing, Karon, Kata and Kata Noi beaches.

“If conditions improve in the meantime, we will inform the Phuket Gazette to cancel the warning,” the lifeguard explained.

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Bangkok

Suspected British Coronavirus patient, confirmed NOT to have the virus – UPDATE

The Thaiger

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Suspected British Coronavirus patient, confirmed NOT to have the virus – UPDATE | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Doctors have confirmed Mr Shorley doesn't have the Chinese Coronavirus - Go Fund Me

It’s now been confirmed that a British man, in critical condition in a Thai Hospital, has not contracted the Chinese Coronavirus. Ashley Shorley, who was holidaying on Koh Phi Phi at the time, became seriously ill with a “flu virus” on December 27. He was rushed by boat (reported as a sea plane in other media) to Phuket where his condition worsened. He is now reported to remain in critical condition in a Bangkok hospital.

However, doctors have now confirmed the 32 year old, from Lancashire in the north of England, does not have the Chinese virus. They have confirmed that the virus is “a severe strain of flu”.

It was initially reported that doctors feared he may have contracted the Chinese Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan and has been contracted by more than 250 people, along with 4 deaths from the new strain of virus.

Ashely’s parents, Chris and Julie, were on holiday in Spain when they received the news about their son being taken ill. They are now in Phuket with their son. While Ashley has medical insurance, his friends and family set up a crowdfunding page to help support the mounting costs during his stay in Thailand.

The mysterious SARS-like virus has so far killed 4 and infected up to 250 confirmed (as of Tuesday afternoon) cases.

Thai Visa reports that Ashley in the intensive care unit at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Environment

32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim

The Thaiger

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32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ash Shorley remains in critical condition in a Phuket Hospital - Go Fund Me

UPDATE HERE.

A British tourist is reported to be fighting for his life in a Phuket hospital. He could be the first Western victim of the coronavirus strain sweeping through China, according to Doctors at the hospital, but is yet to be confirmed. This latest coronavirus, related to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) viruses, is new and was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan last month.

32 year old Ash Shorley remains in critical condition in a Phuket hospital after being infected with a virus while visiting Koh Phi Phi, in the Krabi province. He has been in hospital for nearly a month. His parents, Chris and Julie, who live in Lancashire, are now in Phuket whilst tests are being processed to determine the virus that has attacked Mr Shorley. His parents report that Ash has lost 52 kilograms since contracting the mystery disease.

“He was two days from death. If he wasn’t so fit, he wouldn’t be with us now. We are now waiting on tests. It is very serious.” – Ash Shorley’s father.

Ash was transported to Phuket by seaplane because “his lung had collapsed”, according to the Daily Mail Online. Phuket doctors claim his symptoms are consistent with the Chinese coronavirus but a confirmation on their suspicions is yet to emerge. Experts, speaking to Daily Mail Online, say Mr Shorley’s symptoms are consistent with the new Chinese coronavirus, but could also be a sign of other respiratory infections, as yet, undetermined.

The mysterious SARS-like virus has so far killed 3 and infected up to 220 confirmed (as of Tuesday) cases, although estimates by the WHO speculate that there are as many as 1,700 cases in Wuhan, central China, since December.

The virus is now confirmed to have spread to other parts of China – 5 cases in Beijing, 14 in Shenzhen and one in a province adjacent to Shanghai. Four other confirmed cases have been reported in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

The spike in reported cases comes as millions of Chinese are packing their bags to travel overseas for the Chinese New Year holiday. Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains the country has “stuck to a serious, earnest and professional attitude” to prevent and control any further outbreak of the disease.

SOURCE: Daily Mail Online

32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Instagram32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Daily Mail Online

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Bangkok

The rise of the e-bicycle in Thailand, a bit of motorised assistance

The Thaiger

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The rise of the e-bicycle in Thailand, a bit of motorised assistance | The Thaiger

by Nicole Kash

Cycling tours offer a unique way to explore Thailand. Faster than walking but slower than driving, cycling tours cover plenty of ground while allowing cyclists to immerse themselves in the sights, smells, and culture of Thailand without the boundary of a car window.

Cycling tours can cover up to a heart-pumping 150 kilometre a day. Though exciting for many, some find longer distances daunting, especially newer cyclists or those out of practice. This is where the e-bike has begun filling a unique gap in Thailand’s adventure tourism industry. Thanks to e-bikes, longer distance day tours and challenging multi-day cycling tours are no longer reserved for fitness fanatics. 

Popular in the US and Europe, the e-bike has made its way to Thailand is now thriving within the Kingdom’s tourism industry. These motorised bicycles offer the option to assist cyclists with pedaling, which is especially useful for long distances and tough uphill climbs. Even with the help of the motor, cyclists still get plenty of exercise, as the pedal-assist system requires the rider to put some work in.

Unlike a scooter or motorbike, an e-bike does not run without the pedaling effort of the rider. They feature rechargeable batteries and an and off switch, allowing cyclists to challenge themselves as much as they’d like and get a little extra help when needed. 

The option of swapping our traditional bikes for e-bikes on cycling tours offer more tourists the opportunity to join in on cycling tours than ever before, growing the number of potential clients for Thai adventure tourism companies while fostering a climate of inclusivity.

Looking to join in on the fun? Here’s a look into a few of the single-day and multi-day bicycle tours with e-bike options offered by Bangkok based SpiceRoads Cycling! 

Road Cycling Bangkok to Phuket (10 days)

Starting in bustling Bangkok and ending in along Phuket’s sparkling coastline, this 10-day bicycle tour with e-bike options is the perfect mix of must-see sites and tucked away local spots all on smooth roads. Pedalling toward the scenic south, ride beyond the city lights and explore rural Thailand’s rich culture and welcoming villages while making stops at the east and west coast’s local beach spots along the way.

Rolling hills, golden sunsets, a real taste of local life, and of course serene sea views await you! This trip is fully supported with an air-conditioned van and riders can take a break and cool off while still enjoying the same views as the rest of the group. 

Phuket Highlights (½ day) 

Take a break from beach life to explore Phuket’s unique and often overlooked old town on this ½ day bicycle tour with e-bike options. We start on the town’s peripheral, exploring Koh Sirey’s community of sea gypsies and on to see and smell the fresh catch of the day as locals bid for the best deals at the fishing port.

Then we head downtown to admire Phuket Old Town’s Sino-Portuguese architecture, Jui Tui Shrine museum, and unique shops by bike. This leisurely 27 kilometre tour ends with a drive to stunning Khao Khad viewpoint for a scenic sea view and bird’s eye view over where we have ridden. 

Kanchanaburi Explorer (3 days) 

Immerse yourself in Kanchanaburi’s natural beauty and historic sites on this 3 day bicycle tour with e-bike options. Cycle along country roads and through local villages, enjoying mountain views and the thrill off jungle clad and dirt trails along the way.

Then explore off the bike, boarding a local train for a stunning train ride on Death Railway, visiting the historic and dark Hellfire Pass, and taking an optional boat trip to visit a Mon village. A diverse itinerary combining Kanchanburi’s stunning natural sites with stops at historical must-sees on a mix of tarmac and dirt trails assures you will never get bored on this 102 kilometre bicycle tour!

The rise of the e-bicycle in Thailand, a bit of motorised assistance | News by The Thaiger

To find out more, and see more tours from the Spice Roads team, click HERE.

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