Pattaya to reinstall old Koh Larn buoys, step up enforcement following 2 accidents

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Pattaya will re-install old buoys off Koh Larn following marine accidents on two consecutive days that left one Chinese tourist dead and nine people injured.

Ekarat Khantaro, director of the Pattaya Marine Department, called a meeting with Pattaya boat operators April 28, chastising them for violating marine regulations instituted in 2014 after a string of deadly marine accidents.

He said accidents on April 25 and 26 occurred in part because speedboat operators were leaving the island at excessive speed and because they failed to use designated pick-up and drop-off points.

Ekarat Khantaro said that 600 boat trips service Koh Larn each day, but designated docks can only handle half the traffic. As a result, boats are going to and from the area from locations near swimming, jet ski and traffic lanes.

Chinese tourist Qi Dong was killed and a Thai guide hurt April 25 when the jet ski they were riding slammed into a moving speedboat off Koh Larn. The boat driver said he never saw the tourist due to high waves.

The following day, two speedboats collided off the island, injuring eight Chinese when one of the boats sank. High waves again were blamed for obscuring visibility.

Ekarat said there are 600 boat trips servicing Koh Larn each day, but designated docks can only handle half the traffic. As a result, boats are going to and from the area from locations near swimming, jet ski and traffic lanes.

Floating barriers were installed to divide the different marine users and set lanes for boats, but they have deteriorated due to poor maintenance. The Marine Department has requested a budget for replacement buoys for 2017, but the request remains pending.

In the interim, they will take old barriers removed when newer models were installed in 2014 and put them off Tawaen and Ta Yai beaches to provide traffic lanes for boats, said City Councilman Sanit Boonmachai.

He also promised a crackdown on enforcement of existing laws and regulations to prevent a recurrence of April’s accidents.