PHANG NGA: A Malaysian tourist drowned on a raft excursion to Song Praek waterfall in Phang Nga on Tuesday. Police said that the man, named as Wee Siaw Kong, 29, could not swim and died despite wearing a buoyancy aid and despite the efforts of guides and fellow tourists. Mr Wee, with three other tourists and two staff of tour organizers Island Safari Tour Co, was in the last of a dozen or so rafts on the tour. The General Manager of Island Safari, Chokchai Sukhcharoen, explained that Mr Wee’s raft got stuck on a rock and one of the passengers shifted his weight, with the result that the raft tipped and Mr Wee fell into the water. Mr Wee, who could not swim, apparently panicked, K. Chokchai said. Although he was wearing a buoyancy vest, he was a very heavy person, and was not fully supported by it. The water in the river was flowing very fast, he said, and there was heavy rain. Despite the attempts of people on other rafts, Mr Wee was washed downstream. Eventually he grounded on a rock and tour staff were able to pull him to shore, where they attempted artificial respiration, but in vain. Asked what action the company would take to ensure that there would be no similar deaths in the future, K. Chokchai said, “I have stressed to my tour leaders that if they feel conditions are dangerous, they should not give in to pressure from clients to continue, but should halt the tour immediately, and offer a free tour at a later date.” Police labeled the death an accident. “He was unlucky,” said Pol Lt Col Eakachai Peukmanee, Superintendent of Tung Ka Koke Police Station.
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