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Shocked Danish tourist allegedly pushed from dive boat after hit-and-run accident

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Shocked Danish tourist allegedly pushed from dive boat after hit-and-run accident | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Marine Police are waiting at Chalong Pier for the arrival of a dive boat that allegedly hit a sailboat and fled after throwing one of the Danish crew members seeking the safety of the dive boat into the water.

“Everyone was screaming. I realized that we hit the boat, and my friend fell into the water,” 21-year-old Jens Ole Vibild, who has spent the last 14 days on the boat as part of his gap year, told the Phuket Gazette. “I jumped to the other boat, the diving boat, because I thought our boat was going to sink.”

Witnesses on the sailboat, Starship, explained that after the collision, the Aqua Center Thailand dive boat, North Star, started to drive away with Mr Vibild still on board.

“The diving boat went back because the crew realized that I was on the boat and they didn’t want me to be on the boat,” Mr Vibild said. “They kept saying, ‘jump, jump, jump’.

“I refused because I’m an okay swimmer, but it was in the open ocean and big waves and the boat was still moving, so I didn’t know if I could make it, but then he [a man yelling at him to jump] threw me into the water.”

By the time Mr Vibild was allegedly thrown into the water, his 20-year-old friend Per Boegh Ellekrog had managed to swim to safety in the dinghy being pulled behind the sailboat.

“I suddenly realized that we were going to hit, and we couldn’t avoid it. So I had my book [The Odyssey] in my hand and just backed up. I was leaning against the railing when the impact [of the collision threw] me off the boat into the water,” Mr Ellekrog said. “I was there. I had my book in my hand. I fell into the water and I was scared for my life.

“Looking up, I could see the boat moving. I was swimming as fast as I could to get to the surface.”

Once safely on the dinghy, Mr Ellegrok recalls hearing his Mr Vibild shouting his name.

“I had no idea how he got on the other boat. I was in the dinghy and I saw the dive boat just take off, and I was like, ‘Wait! My friend’,” Mr Ellegrok said. “The boat took off, but made a big turn and came back. Then, I saw him standing there, refusing to get in… He was pretty shocked, so he didn’t want to jump. I said, ‘Ole, just stay, just stay.’ Then, I just saw a guy just pushing him and I saw him screaming and falling into the water.”

The owner of Starship explained that he followed maritime protocol when he saw North Star on a collision course with his sailboat, which had right of way.

“The dive boat was coming from my right side and I wasn’t sure if he could see me or not… I maintained course and speed, which is what I’m supposed to do under the law. I was under autopilot. I wasn’t even steering the boat,” said American Gary Gilbert, who was on the boat with his wife and daughter. “He wasn’t slowing down and he wasn’t altering course. I blew my horn five blasts. Five blasts means collision warning. I gave it to him when he was 100 meters away.

“Still no change in speed and no change in direction. So I hit [the horn] again – five blasts. Then my horn started running out of air.”

At this point the dive boat responded with three horn blasts.

“I didn’t know what it means – it doesn’t mean anything in the marine world. He was less than 50 meters at this point. I jumped and ran to the helm and I released the autopilot and I tried to turn the boat. I couldn’t turn it fast enough.”

Mr Gilbert explained to the Gazette that he didn’t see the dive boat make any change in speed or direction before the collision.

“After the collision the anchor went through my mainsail and all the ropes and lines were tied around his anchor. We were connected together,” he said.

“I didn’t even notice that one of my crew members [Mr Ellegrok] went in the water. I didn’t know someone was in the water. I was trying to disconnect the ropes. He was smashing my boom, smashing the side of my boat.

“They must have stopped their engine because they weren’t pushing me anymore.”

Once the boats were disentangled, the dive boat turned and started to leave, said Mr Gilbert.

“My crew was on their boat… At that time I was trying to get control of my boat. The boom was swinging wildly in the wind and the mainsail was smashed. We were still sailing,” Mr Gilbert said.

“[The dive boat] came around and smashed the bow of my boat. It smashed me twice trying to get the crew member back on my boat.

“One of the crew members, a Thai crew member, pushed my crew member into the water with no life jacket and he started swimming for the dinghy. He was in shock at that time. Pushed a man in shock into the water.”

Mr Ellegrok managed to swim to the dinghy where his compatriot Mr Vibild was waiting for him.

Along with the Marine Police, Aqua Center Thailand employees are waiting for North Star to return.

“We have cooperated with the authorities and sent all the necessary documents to the Marine Office already,” said the manager of Aqua Center Thailand, Jaruwan Pongmak. “We are now waiting for the captain to return and explain what happened.”

Marine Police Chief Panya Chaichana confirmed to the Gazette that a police complaint was filed to the Wichit Police Station concerning the incident.

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Phuket

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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