PHUKET: Police are searching for two Chinese tourists who have been missing since yesterday afternoon when they disregarded red flag warnings and entered the water at Freedom Beach.

Patong Police officers and rescue workers rushed to the scene after receiving reports of the situation.

“The waves were very strong, which is why there were red flags in the area. Rescue workers and lifeguards searched for more than five hours and even patrolled the area with jet-skis, but there was no sign of them,” said Capt Weerayuth Thansirisukhaworakul of Patong Police.

Police gave up the search when it got dark, but vowed to continue today.

“The two missing tourists are Xidong Wang and Guo Zijie. We questioned their friend, Weijie Liu, who told us that he and the others were on vacation in Phuket. They are staying at The Ashlee Plaza Patong Hotel & Spa. Mr Liu is the one who called for help when he couldn’t find the other two,” said Capt Weerayuth.

“We will continue our search, but I would like to warn all beachgoers to be careful. We are experiencing strong wind and waves at the moment, so please follow lifeguards’ instructions and pay heed to red flag warnings for your own safety,” he added.

Last week, a 67-year-old Chinese tourist died while snorkelling at Racha Island (story here).

A spate of drownings and near-drownings at Karon, Kamala, Patong and Surin beaches last month killed two people, while at least 10 others, mostly tourists, were rescued, with some sent to hospital and others not.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong