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Spate of drownings on Phuket prompts officials to take action

Rips in Phuket, Thailand

Officials in Phuket are stepping up beach safety measures in response to 5 drownings in under a week. The Bangkok Post reports that Pairoj Srilamoon, chief of Mueang District, says a total of 12 people have drowned at the island’s beaches since the start of the year.

The five people who were reported drowned between July 28 and August 3 were a Senegalese tourist who went swimming at Freedom Beach, 2 Indian tourists who drowned at Karon Beach, a Thai worker recently arrived on the island, who drowned at Surin Beach, and a Russian tourist who also drowned at Surin Beach.

Pairoj points out that red flags have been placed at Surin Beach to let people know that swimming is prohibited due to the dangerous conditions, with strong waves and high winds prevalent at this time of year. Despite this, Pairoj says some people ignore the warnings.

According to the Bangkok Post, provincial governor Narong Woonciew has ordered all lifeguards and local authorities to step up measures to ensure tourist safety.

The governor wants clear warning signs erected to let people know about rough sea conditions and to communicate that swimming is banned. Narong says police should also patrol the beaches to enforce the law.

There has been a decades-long argument over funding for the island’s lifeguard services. The result is a vastly underfunded beach safety service that leaves much of the island’s west coast without adequate surveillance. The necessary lifeguard training has also been cut back by the lack of funding.

Meanwhile, Phuket’s deputy governor Anuphap Rodkwan Yodrabam met with representatives of the private and public sectors on Friday in relation to the drownings. He says checks are being carried out on the number of lifeguards available at each beach, adding that more will be hired if necessary.

In addition, he says extra training can be provided for lifeguards, in addition to more rescue equipment. Anuphap says local authorities will work with the private sector to improve tourist safety at the island’s beaches and provide more safety information.

“Some drowning cases were caused by rule violations. That said, we have held constant discussions in a bid to prevent tourists from drowning since May.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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