PHUKET – Family and friends of 36 year old Joshua Devine a US veteran and former National Guardsman who went missing on a dive trip in Phuket are upset at police who suspended their search for Devine Monday morning, after officials said they needed extra personnel to help control tourists and local residents celebrating the the Thai New Year festival of Songkran.
The Superintendent of the Phuket Marine Police said he would ask the Royal Thai Navy to take up the search.
Mr Devine’s wife Tadsana says she remains unsatisfied that Thai authorities have done as much as they should have to find her husband, especially immediately after he went overboard when there was a strong chance he was still alive.
”I was shocked when I heard the officer say there was just one Marine Police vessel capable of going to search in deep seas,” Mrs Devine said.
Devine went missing while he and his wife were on a multi-day SCUBA diving trip. The Devines were aboard an extended-stay dive boat about 18 miles off the Phuket coast when Devine disappeared.
Phuketwan.com reports that the Thai Marine Police did not request an aerial search and only one marine patrol boat, and a dinghy with members of the Kusoldharm Foundation rescue team, were used in the search. The patrol boat was withdrawn to take up coastal patrols during the holiday.
Devine and his wife boarded the Chontara I at about midnight Friday for the dive trip. Mrs. Devine told investigators she went to bed soon after boarding, while Devine stayed up drinking with two fellow divers he had just met on board the dive boat.
At about 4 a.m. Saturday, Tadsana awoke to find her husband missing and alerted the ship’s captain. A ship-wide search was conducted but failed to find Devine.
Devine’s drinking companions told officials that at one point they left Devine in the ship’s equipment room for about 10 minutes. When they returned he was gone.
The lack of information has led to increasing anxiety among Mr Devine’s relatives in the US, with his mother and sister now trying to travel to Phuket.