Aussie tourist plunges to death while parasailing; two Thais charged

Bangkok – Two Thai men have been charged after an Australian tourist plunged to his death while parasailing in the tourist island of Phuket, the latest tragedy to highlight the kingdom’s dismal safety record.

People watched in horror on Wednesday as 71-year-old Roger Hussey fell more than 100 feet (30 metres) into shallow waters on Kata beach after the harness attaching him to the parasailing instructor failed.

His wife, Thai national Budsabong Thongsangka, was filming at the time and uploaded the tragic video of his last moments onto the internet.

Police in Phuket confirmed two men had been charged.

“Boat owner Montien Jandaeng, 45, and parachute attendant Rungroj Rakcheep, 38, are charged with negligence resulting in the death of another person,” Lieutenant Suwisit Keereerak, from Karon police station, told AFP on Thursday.

“The equipment was not up to standard and the parachute attendant failed to tell his victim to hold the ropes in the correct position,” he added, saying Hussey died in hospital.

Tourism is a crucial pillar of Thailand’s economy, but accidents involving travellers are common amid lax and often weakly enforced safety regulations.

Authorities often launch prosecutions after fatal accidents occur but critics say few checks are made to ensure easily avoidable tragedies do not happen in the first place.

A dire safety record has not deterred travellers, with Thailand welcoming a record 32 million tourists in 2016, compared to 14 million in 2006.