With his pale skin and white hair, Karan Charoenwongtakul easily could be thought to have albinism. But it was a skin diving expedition near a Rayong industrial park that changed his coloring – and his life – forever.
Karan, 25, and two Laotian pals had dived into the water near the Maptaput Industrial Estate in April 2010 looking for shells and fish. They surfaced to itchy skin and a feeling like they’d been coated in oil. The first white spots appeared a few days later.
Karan Charoenwongtakul shows his skin condition to reporters, hoping he might find a cure and/or compensation.
Within weeks, the bleaching spread over the fisherman’s entire body, turning his hair and beard white as well. His previously dark-complexioned friends suffered similarly, but were so shunned by friends they fled back to Laos.
More than two years later, Karan said he still suffers from weakness and weight loss and is still searching for the cause of his condition.
Praphai Sathvittaya, with the Ban Chang local government, said she has taken Karan to various doctors. The only answers they got were suppositions he was affected by a chemical release from Maptaput.
She said Ban Chang has no jurisdiction to launch an investigation in Maptaput, so Karan simply must hope a company comes forward to confess. The odds of that happening are as long as the skin diver getting his color back.