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Beautiful Phi Phi loses its tourism lustre as an oil slick strikes a beach

Pollution Strikes Phi Phi: Mysterious Oil Slick Drives Tourists from Beach

Wednesday, August 1, 2012
PHUKET: Phi Phi, perhaps the most iconic tourist destination in the Phuket region, is suffering a serious environmental crisis after an oil slick polluted a beach.

Officials don't know where the slick came from - and at this stage there has been no official attempt to remove the one-kilometre long sludge from Ao Lo Dalam beach.

Tourists were covered in the slick's black slime for the first time on Saturday, sounding the alarm that one of Thailand's natural gems is under threat.

Visitors are still staying away from the beach, with a few locals trying their best to scrape the oil from the sand and bag it for disposal.

Wirapat Jantaro, President of the Tourist Association of Phi Phi, told Phuketwan today that local authorities needed to becoming involved to prove they could deal with an environmental threat.

So far there has been no official reaction, he said.

''Tourists are unable to use the beach and the slick is clearly a threat to future tourism on Phi Phi,'' he said. ''It really does call for action.''

Locals have no idea where the slick came from, and no idea when or if the sludge will disappear.

Lieutenant Commander Chisiri Koondam, the Marine 5 Office chief for Krabi province, which oversees Phi Phi, said today: ''We are not sure when it will go. We suspect the oil may have come from a passing trawler.

''Perhaps they were working on the engine or taking on a load of fuel at sea.''

He said it was even possible that the slick could have drifted with the currents from further afield, in Phuket or mainland Phang Nga province.

''There is no swimming at the beach for now,'' he said. ''It may be a small environmental issue compared to other country's problems, but it's an indication of the need for the Andaman region and Phang Nga Bay to be prepared.''

Phi Phi, a rites-of-passage destination for many 20-somethings, has yet to have June's tragic double death riddle resolved.

Forensic scientists are still making laboratory tests on both sides of the world to solve the mystery of what killed Canadian sisters Noemi and Audrey Belanger.

Audrey, 20, and Noemi, 26, were found dead in a room at the Palm Residence Phi Phi on June 15.

The riddle was an all-too-real reminder that the cause of death of American Jill St Onge, 27, and Norwegian Julie Bergheim, 22, on Phi Phi in May, 2009, has also never been determined.
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