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Whitewater raft trip widows newlywed wife

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Whitewater raft trip widows newlywed wife | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Egyptian couple Hossam and Sarah boarded a plane on June 2 bound for their dream honeymoon in Phuket. However, their love story, which began in their mid-teens, came to an unfathomable and abrupt end in Phang Nga, when their tour company decided to brave rough waters and lead a whitewater rafting trip that ended in disaster.

It wasn’t until three days after the trip that the body of the honeymoon groom, Hossam Mostafa, 24, named by the Egyptian Embassy in Bangkok as Hossamellein Mostafa Abdallas Hamada, was found last Monday.

Mr Mostafa’s family agreed to talk to the Phuket Gazette in hopes that their tragic story might not be repeated by others.

“We don’t want this crisis to happen again,” explained Mr Mostafa’s cousin, Ayman Nabil.

Hossam and Sarah Mohamed Hussien were a “big love story”, said Mr Nabil. The young couple had been together since secondary school, meeting when they were about 15 or 16 years old.

After graduating from secondary school, Hossam joined the police academy where he specialized in weapons training.

It wasn’t until June 1, after years of being together, that the two formally tied the knot. They left their wedding party in the back of a refurbished convertible while pyrotechnics rocketed off in the background.

The couple arrived in Phuket on June 3.

Hossam and Sarah booked an adventure tour with Rafting Discovery Ltd, which is based in Chalong. The river, Klong Song Phraek, had been closed to rafters for the past four days, but was re-opened to rafting trips on June 8. Despite this, Rafting Discovery Ltd was the only operator running the trips on the river on June 8 – the day of the tragedy.

Sarah was reportedly hesitant about going, but eventually she and Hossam were talked into joining the whitewater rafting portion of the trip.

“The two guides told Hossam that it was safe and allowed. The last four days it had not been allowed, but now it was safe,” Mr Nabil said.

Sarah and Hossam were joined by two men from Kuwait, one of whom was also killed during the trip. Aref Atamosammad Mosammad, 48, died at the scene.

Rafting Discovery Ltd was unwilling to give any specifics as to why the raft capsized, or what happened after the incident.

“The accident this time was caused by the strong water in the river in the rainy season,” was the only explanation the company would offer.

After the raft flipped, Hossam and Sarah clung to each other.

“They were hanging onto each others hands, before the water ripped Hossam further downstream,” Mr Nabil explained.

“In his last minute, he was hanging onto his wife,” he added.

Family members are in disbelief at the treatment Sarah received from the tour agency and the local hospital.

“In this case, the physiological pain was much more powerful than the physical pain,” Mr Nabil explained.

“They released her from the hospital wearing only a hospital gown, just one or two hours after she had arrived.

“She wasn’t given any medical care. She didn’t even have shoes on her feet. She spent four hours on the bus in this condition,” he said.

To this, Phang Nga Hospital Deputy Director Dr Thipparat Tansakulprasert told the Gazette that the hospital does not have an in-house psychiatrist.

“The two injured who were sent here requested not to receive any treatment from our hospital. Besides, they asked us to transfer them to a nearby private hospital,” he said.

During the ride on the tour company bus from Phang Nga to her room in Phuket, Sarah was told nothing about whether Hossam was still alive or what search efforts were underway.

After repeated invitations from the Gazette to Rafting Discovery Ltd to provide an explanation of the sequence of events, the only statement the company would
issue was:

“Our company always cares about the safety of the customers. We confirmed that all of our equipment is up to operation standards and is always in a good condition…

“We regret this happened, and we send our deepest apologies to both families.”

Even before Hossam’s body was found, two family members were on a flight to Bangkok.

Hossam’s body was found on Monday, still wearing the life-jacket he had put on for the trip.

His body was ceremonially prepared in Phuket before it was flown to Bangkok and then on to Egypt, accompanied by family.

Hossam was buried on Wednesday, June 13.

Hossam’s family, appalled with the local government and the tour agency, is considering legal action.

Hossam is survived by his wife, his father Mostafa Abedallah Hamada, his mother Sahar Maklad, and his older brother Ahmed Mostafa Abedallah Hamada.

Additional reporting by Orawin Narabal

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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Tourism

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

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Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO | The Thaiger

There was the original Covid-19 outbreak and lockdowns back in April and May in 2020, then again just before Christmas and New Year when the new clusters emerged in Samut Sakhon and the eastern coastal provinces, Patong’s nightlife was quiet enough, almost non-existent.

Now when the restrictions are lifted, Nimz will take you through Phuket’s famous nightlife spot Bangla Road, Patong Beach and Phuket Town. It’s quiet, but there are still clubs open and operating and ready to welcome you.

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Expats

Deceased Phuket expat’s body stuck in hospital due to passport mix-up

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Deceased Phuket expat’s body stuck in hospital due to passport mix-up | The Thaiger

In a nightmarish scenario, a deceased Phuket expat’s body is stuck in a Thai hospital as his step‐daughter claims hospital administrators won’t release the body due to a passport mix‐up.

Gemma Swift, the step‐daughter of 75 year old David Donoghue, who died 2 weeks ago, says she is pleading with embassy staff in Thailand to resolve, what she says, is purely an administrative issue after Donoghue’s passport number at the hospital was from that of an expired one.

Donoghue’s current passport was on file with the British Embassy, but because it did not match what the hospital had, his body has remained at the hospital. Swift says it was something that could easily be corrected and the situation was “horrendous” for the family.

“The British Embassy over in Bangkok, they said that because [the number] was from his current passport, they were unable to change the letter. They have said that they won’t reissue a letter with the passport number that he’s got in the hospital with him.”

She said her family planned to arrange a funeral for him in Thailand, then bring his ashes back to the UK. As he retired to Phuket 15 years ago, her family would then take his ashes back to Thailand, as per his wishes, to scatter them.

However, none of his family members were able to travel to Thailand to be with Donoghue in his final days, as the mandatory 14 day quarantine period upon entering Thailand, would not have allowed them to see him.

“I thought this was a basic human right to be able to give somebody a funeral and I accept that there is always going to be red tape…but please just issue a letter and let us bring him home.”

She said before Covid-19, family members travelled often to Phuket to visit Donoghue, who once worked for the Thai tourist police. She says the entire ordeal has been heartbreaking as her family was unable to say goodbye.

“That on its own was heart breaking, and now to get this two weeks later, to find out we can’t give him a funeral, or get his ashes back, it’s just horrendous.”

“It’s like being on autopilot… once we know we have done everything we can, we can start the grieving process, but at the minute we can’t.”

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said they are assisting Donoghue’s family during the difficult time.

“Our staff are in contact with the local hospital and funeral director to help his family obtain the necessary paperwork to ensure his body is treated in line with their wishes.”

If the situation isn’t fixed, Donoghue’s body will join a mass cremation at the hospital.

SOURCE: BBC News

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

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Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | The Thaiger

In today’s Thailand News Today…. The island of Phuket has a firm plan to get its residents vaccinated leading up to an October opening for tourists, the Thai PM backs up his police over last Sunday’s protest violence and Thai Airway’s employee union criticises the changes to employee contracts.

But the plan must be approved by the national government by April, if the province wants to open tourism by October 1. Phuket has a resident population of around 300- 400,000 people.

Before you go rushing off to book your plane tickets we’d stress that this is another in a long list of proposals that have not come to fruition and we’d urge patience until the Government approves the plans.

Meanwhile the island has taken delivery of 4,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine. Vaccinations started yesterday, with priority given to 1,500 healthcare workers and 500 “at-risk” officials exposed to Covid-19 patients.

On a broader note… Thailand’s Tourism Minister says he has asked the Public Health Ministry to approve a vaccine passport scheme aimed at reviving Thailand’s devastated tourism sector. According to the Minister, the government is looking to the World Health Organisation to issue a statement on vaccine passports before it makes a final decision on the matter.

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police action against protesters taking part in Sunday’s anti-government rally in Bangkok. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau used tear gas, a water cannon and rubber bullets in an effort to drive protesters back from the PM’s residence. The PM insists the actions were in line with international standards. He says that police did not violate the protesters’ rights.

Thai researchers are claiming that horseshoe bats are not responsible for transmitting the Covid virus to humans. A researcher with the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases-Health Science Centre, says that even though the bats have tested positive for a coronavirus, it is not the strain that is transmissible to humans, and it’s certainly not the virus that causes Covid-19.

As Thai Airways tries to sell new contracts and conditions to its remaining workforce, the labour union of the national carrier is challenging changes to the employment contracts, where Thai Airways employees are being asked to agree to changes as part of the bigger financial rehabilitation program.

But a union representative says the new contracts are unfair because it includes fewer leave days and shorter holidays. The union has filed a complaint with the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare.

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