Two more tourists drown in Phuket

PHUKET CITY: The official death toll from drowning in Phuket since the beginning of the year now stands at 33, following the two most recent cases – both foreign tourists.

Ukrainian Viktor Pravoyuk, 59, got into trouble at the stretch of Patong Beach in front of Loma Park in Patong in the early afternoon last Friday and was pronounced dead at 1:45pm at Patong Hospital.

Jukkapong Luang-On of the Kathu Police said the victim struggled in the heavy surf and drowned before lifeguards were able to reach him.

As of today, Mr Pravoyuk’s family has yet to contact the police and his body remains in the Patong Hospital morgue.

Lt Jukkapong urges Mr Pravoyuk’s family to contact the Kathu Police (Tel: 076-342719-20) as soon as possible to advise them on funeral or repatriation arrangements.

The second victim, 37-year-old Latvian national Alvars Vanags, drowned at the stretch of Karon Beach across from the South Sea Karon Resort, just south of the traffic circle, on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Vanags was staying at the Movenpick Resort in Karon with his wife and three sons.

Mr Vanags disappeared beneath heavy surf at about 4pm as his family looked on in horror.

Members of the local beach guard recovered his body and rushed him to Patong Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

His drowning followed an all-too-familiar pattern.

Mr Vanags entered the surf in spite of red warning flags and direct verbal warnings from lifeguards.

Col Boonlert Onklang of the Chalong Police said the victim’s wife, 41-year-old Anna Vanags, managed to warn her sons out of the water in time.

Her husband, however, swam out too far and disappeared under the surf about two minutes after getting in trouble, she said.

Chalong Police are now co-ordinating efforts with the family and the Latvian Embassy in dealing with Mr Vanag’s remains, Col Boonlert said.

Col Boonlert said this most recent drowning further reinforced his belief that red flags, warning signs and verbal warnings alone are not enough to keep “overconfident” foreigners from entering the dangerous monsoon-season surf.

“The beach guards can’t help everybody on time. Foreigners don’t fear it and we lack laws to prevent them from swimming. All we can do is warn them of the risks,” he said.

A source at LP Laikhum Company, the firm hired by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization to provide lifeguard services at 12 west coast beaches, said the official tally of deaths by drownings in the province since the beginning of the year now stands at 33.

The true total may well be higher than that.

— Khunakorn Terdkiatkhachorn

Phuket News

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