City and Marine Department prepare for Songkran sea rescues

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The annual Songkran festival, which heralds the traditional beginning of the Thai New Year, begins next week throughout the country. The 5-day holiday begins Wednesday, April 13 and runs through Sunday, April 17, when local celebrations take over, with Wan Lai on April 18 in Naklua and April 19 in Pattaya. From April 13 – 15, nationwide most banks and government offices will be closed. Many currency exchange booths, however, will remain open.

Songkran is less than a week away and although Thailand is suffering its worst drought in 20 years, the city will be drenched in water and the streets and beaches filled with tourists.

The city and the Marine Department met March 29 to plan sea rescue scenarios and preparation. Patrol boats will be deployed and first aid and security stations set up during April 18-19, the ‘Wan Lai’ or Songkran days for Naklua, Jomtien Beach and Pattaya City.

Tens of thousands of tourists are expected to be using the Bali Hai pier during the Songkran period.

Marine officials also began inspecting boats to be sure they had signs showing the maximum number of passengers allowed and that all boats had adequate numbers of life vests.

Boat captains were warned to avoid any drugs or alcohol and keep abreast of reports from the Meteorological Department regarding storms and high seas.

Officers also will patrol piers and beaches to prevent unrest and security cameras will be monitored in real time.