The Foreign Office said on Monday it was looking into the deaths: “We are aware of the death of two British nationals on 15 September on the island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand. The embassy is urgently seeking information from the local authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance as needed.”
Local police official Jakkrapan Kaewkhao told the press the pair had been murdered and found naked on a rocky beach on the island in Surat Thani province, which is popular for its diving sites.
“Their bodies were found 30 metres [100ft] from [the] bungalow,” said Jakkrapan, adding that the pair had arrived in Thailand on 25 August.
The victims’ clothes and a bloodstained hoe were found nearby. Police said the pair had deep head wounds, believed to have been caused by the hoe.
The female victim, 23, was half naked and her head was battered and hacked, possibly by the hoe, Col. Prachum said. The man’s head was also severely hit by a hard object. He was 24 years old.
Police didn’t release the victims’ names. Their bodies were being sent for postmortem examination at the police forensic institution in Bangkok.
Based on interviews with the pair’s friends, they met each other only recently at a late-night party on the beach, said Gen. Kiatpong Khaosamang, police chief of Suratthani province.
“This is the first case in eight years” in which foreign tourists were fatally attacked on the island, Gen. Kiatpong said.
Detectives appealed for witnesses as they launched a murder investigation. They were checking CCTV footage at nearby restaurants, hotels and shops for clues.
An employee at the seaside resort where the pair were staying told reporters the bodies were found behind large rocks on the beach.
“It was the first time this has happened on the island, I have never seen anything like this,” the staff member added, requesting anonymity.
Local media reports said there had been a beach party for about 50 people, mainly tourists, on Sunday night that lasted into Monday morning.
In a statement the British Embassy in Bangkok said officials are “urgently seeking information from local authorities.”
“Consular staff stand ready to provide assistance to friends and family at this tragic time,” it added.
The Island of Koh Tao
The mountainous island of Koh Tao, which is described on backpackers’ websites as “an island of adventure action sports and an island of peace and tranquility”, was on lockdown while police launched a manhunt to find the murder suspect.
Koh Tao is popular with tourists but draws fewer travellers than the neighbouring Koh Phangnan, home to the hedonistic “full moon” party. The double-murder comes a day before the half moon party, a similar event that attracts tens of thousands of revellers each month.