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Thailand authorities discover body of Swiss tourist on Phuket island

Published: Updated:

Thai authorities have ordered heightened security measures on the resort island of Phuket after the discovery of the body of a 57-year-old Swiss tourist, officials said Friday.

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The woman’s partially clad body was found face down in water in a rock crevice near a waterfall Thursday afternoon by an island resident, police said.

The circumstances of her death weren’t immediately clear.

Late Thursday, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat told reporters that Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai had contacted the Swiss ambassador to express his condolences “on the murder of a Swiss woman in Phuket.”

But at a news conference in Bangkok on Friday, national police deputy spokesman Col. Kissana Pattanacharoen said investigators were still awaiting autopsy results to determine a cause of death.

 This June 15, 2019 photo shows Ban Krut beach in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province of Thailand. You won’t find the party scene of Phuket or Pattaya in laid-back Ban Krut, but you will get one of the cleanest and quietest stretches of white sand within driving distance of the capital. (AP)
This June 15, 2019 photo shows Ban Krut beach in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province of Thailand. You won’t find the party scene of Phuket or Pattaya in laid-back Ban Krut, but you will get one of the cleanest and quietest stretches of white sand within driving distance of the capital. (AP)

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed his condolences to the family of the woman, identified as Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, and urged police to devote all efforts to quickly solving the case.

“The prime minister ordered concerned agencies to expedite the investigation to identify and arrest the culprit,” he said.

He also ordered other government agencies to increase support for tourists in Phuket and to “tighten safety and public health measures.”

Swiss media reported that Sauvain-Weisskopf was a member of the country’s diplomatic service but Thai officials did not comment on her job.

Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry late Thursday said they had been contacted by Thai authorities about the death of an “apparent Swiss citizen” but refused to release any details about her on privacy grounds.

The incident casts a pall over Thailand’s so-called Phuket Sandbox scheme to try and bring fully vaccinated foreign tourists to the previously popular tourist destination, which has been struggling massively during the coronavirus pandemic.

From the start of the program at the beginning of July through the end of the month, 14,055 visitors traveled to Phuket through the program, generating an income of 1.925 billion Thai baht (about $58 million), according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. The top five nationalities of visitors were American, British, Israeli, German and French.

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