On June 23rd, Kho Khay Gym, a Russian tourist, was on vacation with his friends in Phuket. Along with his friends, he had gone for a swim at Karon beach. After he got struck by unexpected big waves, he was pulled out into the sea. Although his friends were able to get help by beach vendors, who eventually got him out of the water five minutes later, he was left in a coma.
After the 31-year-old was rescued from the sea, he was taken straight to Patong Hospital before being transferred over to Vachira Phuket Hospital. Throughout the entire ordeal, he never managed to regain back his consciousness. “He was pronounced dead at about 7pm on July 2,” a hospital staff informed the Phuket Gazette. For the rest of the story, you can check it out here.
During the period between June 20th to 23rd, there were a total of four incidents that took place on Phuket beaches. There were two main factors that caused the ocean currents to become exceptionally strong. Firstly, that period was during the super moon, which affected the force of the tides. During a super moon period, the tidal force tends to be relatively stronger as compared to ordinary periods. The second factor is the strong winds of the southwest monsoon. Normally, each of the two factors on its own would be manageable. However, when both of them are being combined together, it can be rather overwhelming at times.
In fact, the situation got so bad that the island’s authorities decided to place red warning flags along certain areas to indicate it as being too dangerous to swim. Lifeguards were also deployed to remind and warn swimmers not to venture into the red flag zones. According to Uten Singsom, the head of the Kata-Karon Lifeguard Club, lifeguards had to pull over thirty tourists from the water over that weekend alone. The lifeguards at both Kata and Karon beaches were so occupied that they did not even have the time to record down all of the rescues that were performed. “About eight people were sent to hospital. As soon as we pulled one tourist out, we had to run to help others. We have warning signs in many languages. I see tourists stop to read the signs, then walk straight into the water. I understand that tourists come to Phuket to swim at the beach, but if they really want to swim please swim where lifeguards are on duty and be careful of dangerous rip currents. There are red flags and lifeguards to warn tourists not to swim where it is dangerous, but they still go in the water,” said Uten.
Happy Fish Swim School would like to take this time to remind all swimmers to obey the red flags at all time. These flags are obviously there for a reason and one should not simply ignore the warnings.