British tourist dies as Thai authorities cut down on safety procedures.
From Andrew Drummond,
Bangkok June 8 2009
A 21-yr-old pregnant British girl returned home to Heathrow today after
her boyfriend became the latest in a series of tragic drownings on the
Thai holiday island of Phuket.
Bethan Jones, left behind the body of her boyfriend James Henry Patton,
also 21, the third tourist drowned in a week on Karon Beach, Phuket.
Patton, from Beacon Hill, Surrey, was drowned on the last day of the
couples' holiday at the Centara Resort Hotel, on Karon Beach.
Although the beach has an almost permanent undertow during the rainy
season, no signs in English have been put on the beach warning of the
Instead there are just beach patrols organised by the local council and
red flags, but they are not prominent. This year due to the economic
turndown no beach patrols have yet been provided.
Ironically, it seems local authorities did not wish to put up permanent
signs in English for fear of alarming tourists,even though the sea can
still look tempting in the rainy season.
James Paton drowned, when, for the third day running, a freak wave,
which police described as three metres hig, engulfed him, Bethan and
two other Britons, rolled them over, and dragged them out to sea in the
The two British men and James Patton's pregnant girlfriend, were rescued
after police launched a boat. But the rescuers found James Paton's
body a kilometre off shore.
A day earlier a 43-yr-old Frenchman and his Thai girlfriend were seized
in the same way. They also drowned. And a 12-yr-old girl has gone
missing off Surin Beach, Phuket, also notorious for its undertow.
Two days before members of both an Australian and Indian family swimming off Karon Beach were luckily rescued.
Police Colonel Chanat Sutima: 'Holidaymakers tend to ignore the flags,
and even warnings from local people. That is why the local authority
normally put patrols up on the beach. But they had not done this yet
this year. It is the rainy season. It is dangerous to go swimming in
the rainy season because of the undertows, but many tourists do not
'The waves are not like the Tsunami in 2004 but they can still be killers.'
Karon District official Tawee Thongcham said: 'Patrols will be
established but there have not been the funds or the people to do this
so far. This is the rainy season and the winds and currents are
British Embassy officials are organising the return of Mr. Paton's body to the UK.
A management spokesman at the Centara Hotel said: 'We are warning all
tourists to stick to the swimming pool and not go in the sea.'