FEARS are growing today over the fate of an Australian tourist who vanished while swimming at dusk off a beach on the Thai resort island of Phuket on Monday.
Jennifer Laidley, also known as Jennifer May, was reported missing Monday night by her friend, Lisa Crosland, after she failed to return from a swim at Karon beach on Phuket, off the southwest coast of Thailand.
“Ms May and her friend arrived at the beach at about 7:15pm … after the lifeguards closed the beach and went home,” Uten Singsom, from the Phuket Lifeguard Club, told the Phuket Gazette.
Uten said lifeguards had advised swimmers to get out of the water as it was unsafe.
“That area [where Ms May was last seen] always has red flags posted to warn people to not swim in that area. There is a dangerous rip current there.”
Crosland told Thai news website Phuketwan.com she thought going for a swim was not “such a crash hot idea.”
“The waves were big, crashing you around,” she said. “I was a bit of a chicken, really.”
While Laidley was swimming, Crosland went back to their resort to retrieve her spectacles, and when she returned 15 minutes later, she could not see her friend anywhere.
A land and sea search involving the Thai Royal Navy, Marine Police, lifeguards and regular police was launched at first light Tuesday.
Friends for 20 years, Laidley and Crosland, both 44, worked together as nurses in Sydney.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it was aware of the search and consular officials were in contact with Thai officials.
Authorities were also in touch with the missing woman’s family in Queanbeyan, near Canberra, according to Australian broadcaster the ABC.