Box jellyfish sting kills German woman 

Box jellyfish sting kills German woman 

Friend injured in Koh Samui night attack

A 20-year-old German woman died and her friend was injured after they were stung by box jellyfish while swimming at a beach on Koh Samui in Surat Thani on Tuesday night, police said yesterday.

Marks are seen on the leg of a German tourist who was killed by a box jellyfish sting on Koh Samui in Surat Thani on Tuesday night. Supapong Chaolan

Saskia Thies and her friend Giovana Rassi, also 20, were taken to Bangkok Samui Hospital after receiving first aid for the jellyfish attack. Thies succumbed to her injuries hours later.

It was the second deadly box jellyfish attack in Surat Thani this year.

Chayanan Surin, a 31-year-old woman from Bangkok, was stung and killed by a box jellyfish while swimming in the ocean at night during a full moon party on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani in early August.

According to police, the latest box jellyfish attack took place about 8pm on Tuesday when the two women went swimming at Lamai beach in tambon Mared.

Staff of the resort where they stayed heard loud screams from the beach and rushed to find the tourists who had suffered stings to their bodies. They called an ambulance and gave first aid to the victims by pouring vinegar onto the wounds.

Local officials led by Samui district chief Paiboon Omak yesterday discussed urgent measures to prevent box jellyfish attacks and reduce casualties among swimmers.

They initially agreed to ask business operators to keep vinegar ready for use and ask health officials to provide first-aid training for box jellyfish attacks to hotel staff.

Mr Paiboon said operators would also be asked to install stinger nets to prevent box jellyfish from entering enclosures and advise tourists to swim inside the enclosures only.

Jet Ski club president Withaya Suksom said yesterday he was alerted to a large number of box jellyfish near Lamai beach by club members on Tuesday and asked marine police and jet skiers to warn tourists to stay out of the sea.

He said he would ask resort and hotel operators to put up warning signs on beaches and advise tourists not to swim in the sea during this period as a precaution.

Since January this year, 12 people have been stung by jellyfish -- four Thais and eight foreigners -- while holidaying on Koh Samui.

Sophon Mekthon, chief of the Disease Control Department, said more than 900 tourists, both Thais and foreigners, have sought treatment for jellyfish stings over the past 15 years while swimming in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.

Of them, 12 suffered fatal stings.

He said the department has sought cooperation from business operators and local authorities in installing stinger nets to keep out jellyfish and including vinegar in their first-aid kits.

Almost 70 primary care centres for jellyfish stings are up and running in Trat, Rayong, Phangnga, Trang,  Ranong,  Satun, Krabi, Chanthaburi and Phuket provinces, he said.

The box jellyfish carries an extremely potent venom in its long tentacles.

A sting can be fatal and is very painful, he said.

If a sting occurs, pouring vinegar on the area can deactivate the stinging cells, called nematocysts, and the victim's skin should not be rubbed.

Soda water can be used if vinegar is not available, but it is less effective, he said.

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