S'pore undergrads swept away by waves in Phuket: 1 injured, 1 missing

Two university students fell and slipped off a cliff while sight-seeing in Phuket and were swept away by waves. This left one of them injured, and the other is now missing.

According to a report in Lianhe Wanbao today, the accident happened at around 5.30pm yesterday, at Promthep Cape, the southern-most part of Phuket.

The injured undergrad is Liu Shujian, 21, and still missing at sea is Gao Yang, 21.

Both of them are exchange students from China who are now studying in Singapore.

Local media reports said that prior to the mishap, the students had been with two other classmates, a pair of sisters.

At around 5pm, they reached the Promthep Cape, and the two students were attracted to the scenery and wanted to get good shots.

To get a good angle, the two undergrads began to climb down the cliff-face, to get nearer to the stormy shore. However, they did not expect a huge wave to suddenly descend upon them and sweep them out to sea.

Fortunately, Liu managed to swim back to shore and grab a large rock. Liu was then rescued.

However, Gao, not being a good swimmer, was swept further out to sea until he could not be seen.

Phuket police started their search and rescue efforts upon hearing the news, Lianhe Wanbao reported.

Liu suffered abrasions on his hands and feet, and was sent to a local hospital for treatment.

"I was not able to save Gao Yang, and I could only watch as he was swept away by the waves," Liu said.

Liu, Gao and sisters Yang Wei, 21, and Yang Qiang, 20, went to Phuket together.

Lianhe Wanbao interviewed Liu at the hospital, and he described what happened.

"While I was standing atop the cliff, Gao Yang immediately climbed down and walked very close to the edge of the shore."

At that point, Gao did not know the dangers of doing so, and even happily faced his back to the sea, raised both of his arms and took photos while posing like Popeye.

At this point, a large wave suddenly appeared and swept Gao into the sea.

Liu, who had been standing nearby, was shocked and quickly reached out to grab Gao, however he, too, was also swept into the sea.

Struggling, Liu tried swimming back to shore despite the crashing waves which threatened to sweep him out further.

"I struggled to swim back at least four times, and finally reached the shore with much difficulty," Liu said.

"When I turned back to look, I noticed that Gao had already been swept three or four metres away and I soon lost sight of him."

Liu later called those on shore to help, but everyone was so shocked, they could not react.

dithwoo@sph.com.sg

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