Helicopter to join the search for a German tourist

PHUKET: A Royal Thai Navy helicopter has been brought in to help search the west coast for missing German tourist Barbara Lange, 75, who was last seen walking alone in the Mai Khao area near the airport on Monday May 9.

Search teams have already covered miles of beach from southern Mai Khao to Nai Yang and Nai Thon beaches, Phuket Tourist Police Lt. Col. Ekachai Siri said from the search command center set. in place to oversee search operations yesterday (14 May). .

Lt Col Ekachai said Day 5 of the search ended yesterday with no sign of Ms Lange as fears for her wellbeing were growing.

Today (15 May) search teams have been specifically tasked to focus on the dense jungle areas of Sirinath National Park, with the assistance of park officers, while other search teams continue their efforts along the coast, he said.

Lt. Col. Ekachai added that several unconfirmed sightings have yet to yield conclusive results. One tourist reported seeing a person near the abandoned unfinished hotel near Ao Sakhu beach while another reported seeing a person ashore from Koh Pling, the same area Ms Lange had been from returned safely on her last wandering on 5 May.

A local fisherman reported seeing an object covered in what appeared to be blue material in the water several miles from Koh Pling, but rough weather along the west coast yesterday prevented search teams in small boats to reach the observation area, he said.

Efforts will continue to try to confirm this observation, he said.

Phuket Deputy Governor Pichet Panapong said yesterday that search efforts on land and sea would be assisted by a helicopter requested from the Royal Thai Navy’s Third Zone Command, based at Cape Panwa.

The request to provide a helicopter to join the search was made yesterday, but high winds made such efforts dangerous, he said.

The helicopter will join search efforts today, he said.

Ms Lange arrived in Thailand with her family on May 3 and stayed at Maikhao Palm Beach Resort, Vice Governor Pichet said.

She got lost on May 5 but was found safely ashore from Koh Pling later that day and returned safely to the hotel, he said.

Ms. Lange has Alzheimer’s disease, V/Gov Pichet said, but noted she was taking medication for her condition.

Ms Lange was last seen recorded on CCTV walking along a small road near Mai Khao beach on Monday morning, he added.

Search efforts will continue in the hope that Ms Lange is still alive, V/Gov Pichet said.

“We don’t think a 76-year-old [sic] could have gone very far. She may have walked up a hill and be exhausted and unable to come back,” he said.

The German embassy in Bangkok has been informed of the situation, he added.

The V/Gov Pitcher has urged anyone who thinks they have seen someone resembling Ms Lange to contact authorities immediately.

Anyone who thinks they have seen Ms Lange is asked to call the Tourist Assistance Center on 062-8808112 or Khun Wichai on 084-0796279.

Brandon D. James