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The hunt for a 23 year old Russian woman, who has been missing from Koh Tao for almost three weeks, has sparked intense speculation on Social Media sites. Valentina Novozhyonova was staying at the Koh Tao hostel, where she checked in on February 11th. She was due to leave on the 16th.
Concerns have been growing as to why the girl had been missing for two weeks before anybody was alerted, and questions have been asked as to whether the residents of Koh Tao tried to contain the story for fear of more bad publicity. One comment on an appeal put out to find the missing girl on the 3rd of March suggests at least one resident was concerned about bad publicity for an island that has a reputation for the deaths of many tourist. The post read
“As long as we don’t know anything else we should consider that everything is OK. Everybody on Koh Tao will know this story 2 hours after this post. So we will know very soon if she is just staying anywhere else. But at this point we should not post that on any public page or we will get shit from the media already tomorrow. Then maybe it is fine, but the internet had another shitty story from Koh Tao for ever”
The post provoked this angry response from one reader
“Just got to say that this was literally the worst response ever. Koh Tao deserves a bad rep if someone has gone missing and all its people care about is not making headlines. It’s been weeks since she even got on her phone, so yes this is a reason for concern.”
Elsewhere on social media many are posting derogatory comments about Koh Tao, that has been dubbed “Death Island”. This developing story has once more brought to light the plight of the two Burmese men who were convicted of the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller. The men, who have just lost the first appeal, still have support from thousands of social media users who insist they are innocent and many suggesting it is well known there is a serial killer at large on Koh Tao but everybody is too scared to come forward with information to clear their names. Online discussions as to what might of happened to the missing Russian woman run to the macabre.
On March the 3rd Police stepped up their efforts and an appeal went out to dive shops and pro-divers on Koh Tao for help to find the girl who was freediving in Chalok Bay. A message on a Koh Tao group says that her max depth on her last dive was 22 meters and that the police in Koh Tao are looking for volunteers with their own scuba gear and free tanks from dive shops for an underwater search. Diving boats are not required as she always started out from the shore, swimming out to deeper water, it went on to say.
A guest from the same hostel told the Samui Times “I was in the same hostel in Koh Tao and the same dormitory with this Russian girl; she was doing the free diving formation during her stay. I stayed 5 nights in this place and I think she stayed 4 nights when I was here in the room. I left on the 15th before 10a.m and she wasn’t in her bed. I thought she slept there the 14th but I’m not sure. She didn’t speak very good English so I didn’t speak a lot with her… she was always alone and she only told me that she is doing a free dive formation.”
The search for the missing girl continues.