Phuket drownings prompt safety measures and Australian aid

PHOTO: Australia's Life Saving Victoria joins the fight to stop drownings in Phuket. (via Australia's Life Saving Victoria Facebook)

Five people lost their lives in drowning incidents in Phuket just over the past week. The unfortunate victims included four international tourists and a Thai national. This troubling streak has provoked local authorities into a state of high alert, with Thai authorities even recruiting help from Australia.

The drownings occurred in Phuket between July 28 and today. In the current year, within the challenging sea conditions, a reported total of 12 tragic drownings, thus emphasizing the urgent need for rigorously implemented safety measures.

Among the recent drownings in Phuket, a tourist from Senegal succumbed in Freedom Beach waters, while two Indian visitors lost their lives at Karon Beach. Furthermore, a Thai national and a Russian tourist, Alexander Iunemen, aged 41, became victim to the turbulent waters of the Surin beach. According to reports, Iunemen had been vacationing in Phuket with his family and was lodged in a hotel near Surin Beach.

Muang Phuket District Chief, Pairoj Srilamoon notified that red flags have been deployed along the length of Surin beach, serving as a warning to potential swimmers against the tumultuous waves, a characteristic of the ongoing monsoon season. Despite these warnings, some visitors dared to challenge the rough seas around Phuket, risking potential drowning.

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Iunemen’s body was discovered on Thursday evening. Lifeguards on the scene performed CPR before he was rushed to the Thalang Hospital, unfortunately, efforts to revive him proved futile.

Phuket’s governor, Narong Woonciew, alarmed by the growing list of drowning deaths, has tasked local bodies and lifeguards with more rigorous monitoring of tourist safety. Woonciew further emphasised the need for more prominent and clear warning signage indicating the dangerous sea conditions and prohibiting swimming in danger-prone zones. He additionally requested increased police patrols in these areas to maximise tourist safety.

Deputy governor Anuphap Rodkwan Yodrabam coordinated a meeting with representatives from public and private sectors on Friday, discussing improved safety measures.

Anuphap insisted local administrative offices review the lifeguard staff on each beach and promised to recruit more if required. He also proposed an analysis of the lifeguard training modules and an assessment of their rescue gear.

Local authorities have been encouraged to collaborate with the private sector to launch a robust tourist safety campaign to prevent any more drownings in Phuket.


Trained professionals from Australia’s Life Saving Victoria are also now on the island providing key training sessions to hotel staff on the west coast beaches. These lifeguard experts have arrived following the ‘Collaboration in Water Safety’ initiative, held in Patong on July 25 to commemorate World Drowning Prevention Day.

The ongoing project looks to further equip hotel staff in hopes of saving more lives. Initiated by the Phuket Hotels Association and guided by professional Life Saving Victoria trainers, a fortnight of rigorous training is set for staff that operate near the water.

Individuals from diverse fields, such as sports staff, security guards, and kids’ club supervisors, voluntarily enlisted for the training – with over 50 participants before the training started.

Phuket News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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