Elephants were dispatched to rescue 16 tourists stranded in a jungle near Khao Lak bech resort 100 km north of Phuket Wednesday after torrential rains and landslides cut the trail home.
According to a report in Phuket Gazette, the tourists joined an elephant trek in the hills behind Baan Thung Kamin in Khuk Khak, an area just north of the popular beach resort town of Khao Lak.
But the young elephants they were riding were spooked by a fast flowing river and landslides forcing the tour company to call in a rescue teams from nearby villages that used mature elephants capable of fording the fast flowing streams.
All 16 tourists were rescued, but the mahouts had to spend the night in the jungle with the younger elephants waiting for the flood water to subside so they could return home.
The travel industry calls this the green season, a euphemism for the torrential rains that hit South Thailand’s western coast July to September. It transform dry forests into a lush blanket of green for around four months, hence the description green.
It is a dangerous tactic because it could lead to visitors suing tour companies for misrepresentation and also for damages if they are placed in danger due to heavy storms.
The Thai Meteorological Department weather-monitoring station at nearby Takuapa town recorded 64 mm of rainfall in the area between 1000 to 1300 yesterday.
Phuket also endured torrential downpours yesterday and overnight, with the TMD reporting 154 mm of rain falling at Phuket international Airport in the 24 hours preceding 0700 Thursday.
Khuk Khak Deputy Mayor Sirithorn urged tourists to stay away from the jungle until the monsoon clears next month.
“Tourists, should not swim in the sea or play in the water at waterfalls during this period. The heavy rain makes the sea and jungle dangerous,” he said.
Every year tourists ignore the warnings of lifeguards and red flags flying at beaches on Phuket’s west coast beaches with fatal consequences.