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Tragic Phuket Drownings: James Newman and Waranya Found on Mai Khao Beach

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Against the picturesque backdrop of Mai Khao beach in Thalang district, Phuket, a chilling discovery was made on Monday. Two lifeless bodies, that of an American citizen and a Thai woman, were found washed ashore, casting a somber shadow over the serene coastline. Authorities swiftly sprang into action upon receiving the distressing news from local residents.

Leading the investigation, Pol Lt Col Ranaphoum Permpoon, the chief sleuth at Tha Chatchai police station, confirmed the identities of the deceased. The man was recognized as James Newman, a 45-year-old American. The woman, aged 49, was identified only as Waranya, a dedicated nurse hailing from Surin. The curious part? No clues were given about any possible connection between them, leaving room for speculation and mystery.

As the waves lapped gently at the shore, investigators scoured the scene for signs of foul play but found none. There were no bruises, no cuts—nothing to suggest a violent encounter. Digging deeper, it was revealed that both Newman and Waranya had checked into a plush hotel on Mai Khao just the day before their tragic end. Initial theories pointed to a strong undercurrent being the grim culprit. It seemed one had been swept away, and in a gallant but doomed effort, the other had tried to rescue them, only to succumb to the powerful ocean grip.

The bodies were promptly sent to Vachira Phuket Hospital, where meticulous autopsies aimed to unravel the precise cause of their untimely demise. The incident left a lingering sense of déjà vu as Newman was the second American to drown off Phuket in a mere two weeks. Just last Tuesday, another American, James Du Bois, had been found lifeless on the shores of Nai Harn beach in Muang district, etching a somber mark on what should have been idyllic vacations.

Adding to the list of tragedies, on Sunday, a Russian man named Apostolov Aleksei, aged 64, also met a watery end off Surin beach in Thalang. Pol Lt Kittipong Kongkaew, the deputy chief investigator, reported that Aleksei’s body bore no signs of violence. He had been residing in a nearby condominium and his body, like the others, was sent to Vachira Phuket Hospital for further examination.

The recurring drownings on Phuket’s beaches have sounded an alarm amongst local authorities. Lifeguards have gone into overdrive, placing vivid red flags along perilous shores, stark warnings against the deceitful allure of the azure waters. Beachgoers are urged to exercise extreme caution, to heed the warnings, and to respect the mighty, unpredictable sea.

As the sun sets on these tragic events, the stories of James, Waranya, and Aleksei serve as sobering reminders of nature’s untamed power. While Phuket’s beaches remain a magnet for tourists seeking paradise, they also demand a deep respect for their hidden dangers, echoing the eternal dance between man and nature.


  1. James_L June 17, 2024

    It’s so tragic what happened to James and Waranya. People need to pay more attention to the warnings!

    • flora76 June 17, 2024

      I agree, but isn’t it the authorities’ job to ensure the beaches are safe? Maybe more lifeguards could help.

      • James_L June 17, 2024

        Sure, lifeguards help, but people also need to use common sense. The ocean can be unpredictable.

      • Dolphin June 18, 2024

        Sadly Thai culture is non confrontational and when a lifeguard fears getting rebuked when asking a tourist to leave the sea, he avoids engagement – a red flag is pretty clear, and if media reports about these tragedies aren’t getting through then no point in blaming the lifeguards. Stupid is stupid does – the sea is a killer at this time of the year in Phuket.

      • Dolphin June 18, 2024

        Sadly Thai culture is non confrontational and when a lifeguard fears getting rebuked when asking a tourist to leave the sea, he avoids engagement – a red flag is pretty clear, and if media reports about these tragedies aren’t getting through then no point in blaming the lifeguards. Stupid is stupid does – the sea is a killer at this time of the year in Phuket.

    • Dr. Stanfield June 17, 2024

      Flora76, lifeguards can only do so much. Education and awareness are crucial too. Not every beach can be monitored 24/7.

      • flora76 June 17, 2024

        You’re right, but why weren’t there more warnings and patrols knowing how dangerous the currents can be?

  2. sandy_smith June 17, 2024

    I think it’s very suspicious that they were both found together. Could there be more to this story?

    • Marcus June 17, 2024

      I doubt it. Sometimes tragedies like these are just unfortunate accidents.

  3. Mark June 17, 2024

    So sad to hear about another American drowning. There’s something wrong with our swimming skills or attention to safety?

    • Lifeguard4Life June 17, 2024

      Mark, it’s not just about swimming skills. Even strong swimmers can get caught in rip currents. Awareness is the key.

    • Dr. Stanfield June 17, 2024

      Mark, it’s not about nationality but rather the unpredictability of nature and human error. We need global awareness.

  4. Ana June 17, 2024

    Imagine the horror their families must be going through. 😢

    • Charlie O. June 17, 2024

      Absolutely heartbreaking. My thoughts are with their families.

    • Sarah J. June 17, 2024

      It’s a pain no one should ever have to endure. We need to enhance beach safety measures.

    • Ana June 17, 2024

      Yes, Sarah J., especially in such popular tourist areas. Tourists trust these places to be safe.

  5. TrevorM June 17, 2024

    In my opinion, it’s reckless to swim in such dangerous waters, especially without proper local knowledge.

    • Suzie Q June 17, 2024

      TrevorM, you’re being too harsh. Accidents happen, and sometimes heroism leads to tragedy.

    • oldschool June 17, 2024

      Totally agree with Suzie Q. Trevor, you can’t blame victims for unfortunate events.

    • TrevorM June 17, 2024

      Point taken, but some personal responsibility can’t be ignored.

  6. Carlos June 17, 2024

    Phuket is beautiful, but it’s becoming known for these tragic events. It’s scary.

  7. NurseJill June 17, 2024

    Waranya should be remembered as a hero if she tried to save James. Not many would risk their lives like that.

  8. Cassandra_d June 17, 2024

    These drownings are a wake-up call. Are the locals aware enough about the risks, let alone tourists?

    • Marcus June 17, 2024

      You make a good point, Cassandra. It’s not just tourists who need educating.

    • Cassandra_d June 17, 2024

      Exactly. A community-wide effort is needed to prevent more such tragedies.

  9. Tom_88 June 17, 2024

    Strong currents can be incredibly dangerous. It’s essential to know your limits.

    • Becky June 17, 2024

      Can’t agree more, Tom. Sometimes people underestimate how powerful nature can be.

  10. SunKid12 June 17, 2024

    This is spookier than a horror movie. What if there’s a serial killer targeting tourists?

    • RationalJay June 17, 2024

      That’s quite a stretch, SunKid12. Let’s stick to facts—these are natural drownings.

    • SunKid12 June 17, 2024

      I know it’s a stretch, but sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.

  11. KarenB June 17, 2024

    This article made me cancel my trip to Phuket. Too dangerous!

  12. Jaylen June 17, 2024

    Why weren’t there better safety measures in place? Red flags clearly aren’t enough.

    • Sophia P. June 17, 2024

      Safety is a shared responsibility. Authorities and tourists both need to be vigilant.

    • Jaylen June 17, 2024

      True, but more signs and lifeguards could dramatically reduce these incidents.

  13. PhuketFan June 17, 2024

    Despite these incidents, Phuket is still a paradise. Just be extra careful.

  14. grower134 June 17, 2024

    As a local, I can say we need more awareness campaigns about beach safety.

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