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Tourist fights for life after near-drowning in Phuket

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PHUKET: A foreign tourist who was swimming in an area marked by red warning flags was pulled from the water off Nai Harn Beach yesterday afternoon and rushed unconscious to Vachira Phuket Hospital.

Jula Nontree, chief lifeguard for Kata, Karon, Nai Harn and Patong Beaches, told the Phuket Gazette that the incident occurred in front of the Phuket Yacht Club Hotel at about 3pm.

The victim, a Caucasian man aged about 50, entered the surf in the same area as two Asian men at the time.

All three were caught in a rip current and assisted to shore, still conscious, by lifeguards.

The two Asian men recovered while on the beach, but the Caucasian lost consciousness and had to be given first aid measures until an ambulance arrived to rush him to the hospital in Phuket Town.

Mr Jula said the two Asians were ethnic Chinese foreign tourists; he did not know the name or nationality of the Caucasian man.

“He probably panicked and tried to swim back to the shore [against the offshore current],” he said, adding that the man probably could have walked back to shore because the water in the area is not that deep.

“If you can stand there I believe you can handle the waves,” he added.

Mr Jula said the man still had a pulse, but remained unconscious when the ambulance arrived.

“I don’t know if he will survive or not; he was not doing well when we last saw him,” he said.

The area where the three men entered the surf is home to a fixed rip current and was clearly marked with red flags, he said.

Local officials in the south of the island are trying to establish a hospital there to help drowning victims, who often die en route to hospitals in Phuket Town to the north, it was recently announced.

To vote in the latest Phuket Gazette poll on how best to warn foreign tourists of the dangers of rip currents, click here.

If you have already voted and want to view the latest results, click here.

— Chutharat Plerin

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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