SURAT THANI – A British tourist has been missing for two days after allegedly falling into the sea during a “drunken” speedboat trip around a Koh Samui island in southern Thailand.
Wesley Bates, 42, and four of his friends hired the sightseeing vessel to go snorkeling in waters around Koh Samui in Surat Thani, southern Thailand, on Monday.
But the boat’s captain, Chaktham Jaijong, 23, claims he made repeated warnings to the group, four men and one woman, not to sit on the bow without life jackets — which he says they ignored.
Chaktham said the group — who he alleges were already drunk when he collected them earlier in the day — refused to move to the passenger seats inside.
It is understood that Bates was flung into the water while the group was returning to the island a couple of hours before sunset, around 4 p.m. local time.
Police, coast guards and fishing boats have been searching for the vacationer since without success.
The boat’s captain, who has been questioned by police, added: “They didn’t listen to me when I told them to sit properly because it was very dangerous to sit on the boat’s head.
“They looked very angry, so I didn’t want to keep bothering them, so I just let them sit there.”
Chaktham said he had taken the group on a trip from Koh Samui to Koh Tean, which is also surrounded by several small, uninhabited islands.
But with wind and choppy seas hitting the boat when they returned, Bates is said to have lost his balance and fallen into the sea in front of his friends.
Chaktham told police he stopped the boat and sailed around the area where he believed Bates had disappeared.
He was still not found after three hours of searching with help from nearby fishermen.
The rest of the tourists were dropped off at the island of Koh Samui before the boat captain reported the missing man to the sheriff and the police.
Officials spent another two hours looking for the tourist before they decided to delay the search due to the windy conditions and darkness.
The operation with help from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, including rescuers and divers, resumed at 9:30 a.m. the following day.
Police Major Worasak Akarakul, the inspector of Koh Samui police station, said Tuesday they had still not found Bates.
“Officers have questioned the boat captain and the owner of the vessel. Their statements will form part of the investigation,” he said.
“Rescue teams are cooperating to search for the tourist and all vessels in the area have been notified.”
By Jon Lockett, The Sun