Pattaya Daily News

01 February 2013 :: 13:02:38 pm 71305

Australian sisters recount horror Phuket boat ordeal

Young Australian tourist Tegan Larin has described yesterday’s (January 30) terrifying speed boat ordeal from her Phuket International Hospital bed, where she remains bedridden with a serious back injury following the boat incident.
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PHUKET – January 30,2013; Her sister Rahni, 27, also injured in the mishap, has launched a scathing attack on the speedboat driver, who she said was careless and drove the boat dangerously.

Three other tourists, some seriously, were also injured yesterday when the speedboat they were travelling in hit strong waves, throwing the tourists up to one metre high in the air.

They came crashing down on the bottom of the boat, and Tegan, 24, suffered two back fractures.

She cannot move and must stay lying horizontal at all times.

An American women had a deep gash on her leg from hitting a metal part of the seat – her skin was ripped open exposing the flesh – while another Malaysian women suffered a serious “rip” to her ear.

Many others were bleeding and suffering back pain on board the boat.

The Australian sisters described to The Phuket News how difficult the rescue was once the boat reached shore, with all the injured lying on each other, most unable to move due to their back injuries.

Ambulance staff had to remove them one by one using stretchers.

Tegan, Rahni, and their cousin Samara Dove, 25, were visiting Phuket for the first time on holiday when they boarded a speedboat at Chalong pier yesterday (their second on the island), on their way to Phi Phi island.

Rahni said the sisters went to Chalong Pier in the morning, ready for a great day out on the water. When they left, the sun was shining and the water was flat.

“We went to the port to get on the speedboat and the tour leader told us to get to the front, and that it was okay. When we got up there, we did not get a life vest or anything like that. She just said hold the rail.

“It was fine for the start – the first 10 minutes were big waves, but not too bad,” Rahni, who is now wearing a back brace, said.

But soon came much stronger waves, which were initially a bit of a thrill.

“We all got soaked because of the water coming down, and then another wave came, and we all went up about one metre in the air and then fell crashing down,” Rahni explained.

“Me and my sister landed on our backs and we could not move – we lay on the floor screaming. Tegan hit her nose and her mouth, and both were bleeding.”

Four other girls nearby were also injured, including American tourist Maria Genetti who had a bad leg injury.

“The American girl she said she hit the seat, which had a metal part on it which cut her leg. She could see the tissue inside her leg,” Rahni said.

Another girl from Malaysia had a cut on her ear, and was “really frightened” by the blood, the sisters said.

“The girl who had the cut ear was panicking. I think she thought she was going to lose her ear. My cousin, Samara had to comfort her to make her calm down,” Rahni said.

Another Indonesian girl also had a wound on her leg, was having trouble breathing and suffered a back injury.

And the sisters are less than happy with the way the boat driver reacted, saying he was driving “carelessly”.

“Apart from not giving us the life jackets…when the wave got bigger, he drove faster instead of slowing down,” Rahni said.

“It was so dangerous, when the wave got too big, he [the boat driver] drove faster, he just kept going faster and faster and there were no life jackets.”

“I think he has been driving the boat a lot so he should have known what to do, and what would happen.

“I spoke to two other girls in a different boat [after the accident] and they said when the wave got big the driver slowed down.”

Andawaree company tour guide, Maneerat Jeemanop, who was the tour guide on board at the time of the incident, said, “The driver wasn’t careless.

“The waves were very strong yesterday. They are usually strong around the Panwa Cape, but yesterday was more strong than usual. First one wave came, and pushed the boat forward [mid air], where it hit another oncoming wave.”

Ms Maneerat said life vests were given to all passengers who sat inside the boat, but not to passengers who sat outside or on the front of the boat – where the three Australians were sitting.

Their life vests, Ms Maneerat said, were in a pile on the floor where they could access them. She also says she told the Australian sisters to hold the rail.

The two sisters work in Australia – Tegan studies while working part time, while Rahni takes care of young children. At the moment their jobs are on hold until they are well enough to return home.

They initially planned to fly back to Australia on Tuesday (February 5) but are now extending their trip until Tegan is able to move without severe pain.

“Today, I am going to try on the back brace to see if I can walk. If I can walk, maybe I can go back to the hotel if it is not too painful,” Tegan said, before leaving the room for physiotherapy.

It is understood all the injured tourists are covered by the tour company’s insurance, however Rahni said she had to pay B4,900 yesterday. She plans on finding out more details about the insurance coverage today and whether she will get the money back.

View the original story on The Phuket News here.

Category : Thailand News

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