Phuket lifeguards raise red flags as surf conditions turn deadly

Image courtesy of Patong Surf Life Saving

Lifeguards today have raised red no swimming flags along Patong Beach, urging all residents and tourists to avoid entering the water. This follows a notice issued yesterday by Phuket Vice Governor Sattha Thongkham, acting on behalf of the governor of Phuket.

The red flags indicate areas deemed too dangerous for swimming due to heavy surf conditions. Despite these warnings, some individuals continue to ignore the advisories, putting themselves at risk.

In just nine days, from June 9 to June 17, heavy surf claimed four lives at Phuket beaches, specifically Nai Harn, Mai Khao, and Surin Beach. Additionally, eight tourists were rescued from the dangerous waters of Karon and Patong.

Lifeguards at Patong Beach reiterated their plea for beachgoers to respect the red flags after another person had to be rescued from the surf yesterday.

Vice Governor Sattha’s notice, issued yesterday, explained that the Phuket Provincial Office of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM-Phuket), in cooperation with the Thai Meteorological Department (TMD), had forecast severe weather from June 19 to 25.

The intensifying southwest monsoon over the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, combined with a low-pressure area over Upper Vietnam and the Gulf of Tonkin, is expected to bring increased rainfall and heavy rain to some areas of the southern western region.

Dangerous waters

Sea waves are predicted to reach two to three metres, with heights exceeding three metres during thunderstorms. This weather poses risks of flash floods, flooding, and strong winds.

The notice instructed all relevant agencies to adhere to official safety preparedness and response guidelines and to take immediate action to ensure the safety and well-being of residents and tourists in Phuket.

For flood management, officials are to monitor rainfall and reservoir levels closely to manage water release and prevent overflow. Areas prone to heavy rain and potential flooding are to be identified and monitored. Officials are also to issue warnings and close natural tourist attractions if necessary.

Officers are advised to be cautious of electrical hazards and to cut off power immediately in risky areas. In case of flooding in underpasses or tunnels, traffic is to be redirected and water pumped out quickly, with officers deployed to monitor such areas around the clock.

For strong winds, public warnings are to be issued, and signs posted in coastal areas to inform tourists to avoid swimming during strong waves with lifeguards closely monitoring beachgoers. The Marine Department, Navy, and Marine Police are to warn boaters about navigating safely and to prohibit setting out to open water if conditions worsen, reported the Phuket News.

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Ryan Turner

Ryan is a journalism student from Mahidol University with a passion for history, writing and delivering news content with a rich storytelling narrative.

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