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Chinese tourist death sparks dive industry safety shake-up

Dive operators in Phuket will be required to ensure that every tourist diver has a medical certificate approving them to dive as part of new safety measures to be rolled out after the death of Chinese tourist Zhang Lin north of Phuket last Saturday (Nov 28).

Chinese tourist dies divingFailure to do so may result in their company registration being struck off, Santi Pawai, Director of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Phuket office, told The Phuket News this week.

Other measures include yet another crackdown sweeping through the island’s dive industry to ensure all operators were legal, he warned.

Mr Santi revealed the new measures to be introduced after meeting on Monday (Nov 30) with representatives from Phuket William Diving, the Patong-based dive tour operator that Ms Zhang, 23, was with.

Mr Santi called the Phuket William representatives to answer how Ms Zhang came to be separated from her dive group, which reportedly included two advanced divers, one divemaster and one instructor.

Ms Zhang’s body was found alone at a depth of nearly 12 metres by another dive tour group. Her dive computer showed that she had been underwater only 26 minutes. The divers brought Ms Zhang’s body onto their own dive boat and attempted to revive her, as the MV Peterpan had reportedly moved away from the dive site.

The MV Peterpan is owned by the Similan Seven Sea Club dive company, based in Khao Lak, but Phuket William Diving had chartered the boat in order to operate their own dive tours, confirmed Similan Seven Sea Club owner Tongkan Worapanya.

“We can confirm that Phuket William Diving is a fully legally registered dive tour company,” Mr Santi said. “But we must do all we can to ensure that no tragedies like the death of Ms Zhang occur again.”

However, Mr Santi did not elaborate on what chain of events led to the death of Ms Zhang.

“I am waiting for some more information from police and for the autopsy report, and I am collecting more details for my investigation,” he said.

“I hope to conclude this before the end of December.”

Phuket William Diving, which promotes itself as providing PADI quality training and tours, is not listed on the PADI website as a registered PADI operator at Patong Beach, Phuket.

Meanwhile, the consumer protection unit at the PADI Southeast Asia Pacific headquarters in Sydney has yet to confirm whether or not Phuket William Diving is a recognised PADI operator – and if it is not, what action the international diving franchise would take against the Patong-based operator.

Phuket News

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