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Search continues for missing teenager



PHUKET: Rescue teams have spent the day searching in vain for a 15-year-old boy who became caught in an undertow at Karon Beach and is feared drowned.

The boy, Pattharadanai ‘Ooad’ Kampong, was last seen waving for help in heavy surf about 6pm on Sunday.

Lifesavers saw him in trouble, and tried to save him, but were unable to battle through the strong undertow in the dark.

The young construction worker had been in Phuket for only only ten days and had been working with his father and friends at the Hard Rock Cafe project in Patong.

The group had gone to the beach after finishing work for the day, but Ooad told the others he was feeling sick and said he would wait in the truck while they went swimming.

But just before dusk, he got out of the truck and went swimming on his own.

He quickly became caught in a strong undertow and he was last seen waving for help.

Two lifesavers tried to swim out to rescue him, but the current was too strong, and they were unable to find him in the dark.

A massive search was launched. Locals, lifesavers, police and the boy’s friends searched for him throughout last night and all of today.

Chalong police and a rescue team from the Karon Municipality used a jet boat to scour the turbulent waters.

The boy’s cousin, Thanaphan Koneprung, said Ooad stayed in the truck while the others went swimming.

“But he must have woken up and gone into the surf, even though he is not a good swimmer,” he said.

Mr Thanaphan said one of the boys saw Ooad in the water waving for help, and he alerted a lifesaver.

The lifesaver, Jirawut Veerakarn, said it was getting dark and the life guards were packing up for the day when the alarm was raised.

“The waves were okay, but there was a very strong undertow running, and he must have got caught up in that,” he said.

“We tried to swim out to where he was, but it was getting too dark. The undertow was very strong, and we couldn’t get to him.

“We did everything we possibly could, but we were unable to save him.”

Mr Jirawut said red flags had been put out to warn swimmers about the dangerous conditions.

— Kitima Pornmongkhonwat


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