Updates – Rescue operation for missing Filipino tourists hindered by bad weather

(Photo) Tiew Prasa Gu Facebook page

Mr. Apichet Yim-on, head of the Kusoldharm Phuket Foundation rescue team, told Thai PBS World this morning that the rescue operation for the two missing Filipino tourists near Freedom Beach in Phuket had to be suspended due to heavy rain and high seas.

One of the missing tourists, who went missing in the sea on Wednesday, has been named as Angelo Cortez.

Apichet led a team of dozens of rescue workers and divers, from the Marine Police and Phuket Lifeguard Club, in the search but had to resort to patrolling along the sea shore.

He said that two Thai fishermen also fell into the sea off the same beach. One made it back to shore while the other remains missing.

The beach is not currently open to the public, according to the rescue workers.

One member of the group of 12 Filipino tourists reportedly visited the beach last year. Impressed with its beauty he recommended it to his friends. They asked their van driver to take them halfway and used GPS to guide them down to the beach.

Apichet said that rescue workers and authorities will evaluate the weather conditions by the hour and will make all efforts to find them.

18.00pm:

The rescue operation, for two Filipino tourists missing off Freedom Beach in Phuket’s Kathu District, has been suspended again.

Mr. Apichet Yim-on, head of the Kusoldharm Phuket Foundation rescue team, said that the search had restarted in the morning (18 July), around rocks on the coastline. Two jet skis were used to search coastal waters. The rescue team included staff from the Phuket rescue foundation, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Phuket Office, the Phuket Lifeguard Club and the Marine Police. They suspended search operations at around 4pm today because the rescue boats were unable to operate on the rough sea, so the diving team could not do their job.

13 Filipino tourists had been playing in the sea, despite heavy rain and large waves. Two of them were swept away and disappeared. The tourists who went missing have been named as Angelo Cortez, 29 and Noah Ibay, 43.

According to rescue workers, the beach is not currently open to the public, so ‘No Swimming’ signs are not displayed.

“Actually, this beach is private property and not easy to access. If you want to get here, you have to crawl under a fence” he added.

Apichet said that a year ago, two Chinese tourists also went missing at Freedom Beach.

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