Less than 24 hours before two Chinese tourists would die in yet another speedboat accident, Pattaya city and Marine Department officials had met with more than 100 boat operators to again the stress the importance of safety.
The Aug. 27 meeting hosted by Pattaya Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, Marine Department Director Raewat Potriang and Marine Police Superintendent Col. Namaskarn Nikolhaeng actually had been the second such marine-safety meeting that week. On Aug. 21, Pattaya City Councilman Sanit Boonmachai, the president of the Pattaya Tour Boat Operators Club, met with operators at city hall to inspect boat registrations and captains’ licenses, as well as urge boat to keep their equipment well maintained.
Raewat Potriang, director of the Pattaya Marine Department, lectures boat owners on safety just 24 hours before the Aug. 28 deadly speedboat crash.
Apparently, the message of neither meeting reached the right ears.
On Aug. 28, two Chinese tourists died and eight were injured when their speedboat crashed into an anchored longtail boat off Bali Hai Pier. The boat driver, now arrested, steered his twin-engine craft too close to the empty glass-bottom boat, snagging its anchor line, causing it to smash into the longtail and eject half the passengers.
The Aug. 27 meeting was described as “training” for boat operators in fire prevention and control after a boat caught fire Aug. 18 about three kilometers off the Pattaya coast. No one was hurt, but Ronakit said the accident helped to reinforce a perception among foreign tourists that Pattaya’s beaches and seas are unsafe.
Proof that perception proved reality came less than a day later.
The training session covered traffic patterns in Pattaya and Koh Larn, maintenance and inspection of boats, preparation of safety equipment, the need to inform authorities of emergencies, fire extinguisher use, water rescue, and the prohibitions against boat crews abusing drugs and alcohol.
Only time will tell if any of the “training” took hold.