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Probe into Phoenix salvage death sinks

Probe into Phoenix salvage death sinks

PHUKET: The investigation into the death of a diver working on the project to salvage the sunken Phoenix tour boat last week has stalled, with police accepting the official cause of death as a ‘lack of oxygen”.

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By The Phuket News

Thursday 11 October 2018, 06:07PM


Divers work during the salvage effort to recover the sunken Phoenix tour boat. Photo: PR Dept

Divers work during the salvage effort to recover the sunken Phoenix tour boat. Photo: PR Dept

Niphat ‘Joch’ Kludnak, 37,an employee of Spitz Tech Co Ltd, died after passing out and failling into the water from the back of the salvage boat on Sept 29.

Phuket Public Relations Department Chief Bussaya Chaipeum issued a statement three days later (Oct 2), stating that Mr Niphat died at 12:30pm on Sept 29 at the site where the sunken Phoenix lies on the seabed.

Mr Niphat had been involved in the salvage mission since it began in August.

According to the statement issued by Ms Bussaya, Mr Niphat was on the rear of a vessel being used in the salvage operation when he fainted and fell into the sea.

Mr Niphat was recovered unconscious from the water and was quickly taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town where he was later pronounced dead. (See story here.)

Wiwat Chitchertwong, Acting Director of the Phuket Marine Office, was dismissive of any questions about Mr Niphat’s death asked by The Phuket News today (Oct 11) – despite the fact that Spitz Tech has been hired by the Marine Dept to carry out the salvage.

“I have no idea about this. Please contact the Chalong Police,” was all he would say.

Capt Somkiet Sarasit of the Chalong Police, who is conducting the investigation into Mr Niphat’s death, was more a little more forthcoming in his responses.

“The cause of the death was a ‘lack of oxygen’, as confirmed by Vachira Hospital,” Capt Somkiet said, though not willing to give a further explanation of how Mr Niphat came to suffer the lack of oxygen.

CIBS 2020 - The 25th China (Shanghai) International Boat Show

Capt Somkiet did confirm that Mr Niphat was a diver on the salvage team.

“He was working with six other drivers,” he said.

However, he added duing the brief phone interview today, “I believe that the cause of death was related to his (Mr Niphat’s) personal health.”

Capt Somkiet did not explain whether or not he thought Mr Niphat died due to poor work practices or the result of any form of negligence, but did say, “I have not pressed any charges against the company. My investigation so far has not revealed any evidence of wrong doing.”

Asked has anything been done to prevent other people from suffering the same death, Capt Somkiet said, “I warned the company about safety before allowing it to continue its salvage operation – especially regarding drivers’ health. It is very important to check and make sure they (divers) are fit to work.”

The Phoenix tour boat sank in a storm on July 5, killing 47 Chinese tourists and sending the Phoenix to the seabed 45 metres below the water’s surface some 1.5 nautical miles off Koh Hei (Coral Island),

The boat now lies at an unreported depth some 400 metres from where it sank after a tether broke during an attempt to drag the stricken vessel – while still underwater – to an area where the water depth was around 25 metres, where the boat would then be raised to the surface.

That plan has now been scrapped. (See story here.)

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Kurt | 29 October 2018 - 17:13:36

Today, 29 Oct., How about the Phoenix salvage? Just pass by clueless RTP officers. Someone thai Official, preferable a tech diver himself,  must be able by now  to say something about the salvage operation, with many days good weather behind us.

Capt B | 13 October 2018 - 10:28:07

In "the real world", the Diving Supervisor & DMT Divers onboard would have carried out a quick neurological exam on the diver and would have probably blown the guy down to 165 FSW on a US Navy Treatment Table in the Deck Decompression Chamber that they probably do not have onboard.
The circus continues.
Sincere condolences to the dead diver's  family. 

DeKaaskopp | 12 October 2018 - 11:26:06

Silly PN ! Why even asking a clueless RTP officer if you have a famous expert for everything right at your door?

Kurt | 12 October 2018 - 09:46:40

In the salvage industry is 'lack of oxygen' always due to negligence.  One way or another.  A RTP officer should refrain of comment in this matter as he only knows about water to shower and brush his teeth with it. His comment shows lack of knowledge.
This whole already more than 3 months not salvage becomes questionable. Skills, material, safety,  a plan ( now scrapped)

Rorri_2 | 12 October 2018 - 06:03:19

Well, well, well, now it is lack of oxygen,  the gang of apologists again to quick to criticize.

Nasa12 | 11 October 2018 - 18:56:16

Wondering who is the real owner of this company ? And now 48 dead.

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