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Man in Ko Phangan Electrocuted In Pool

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This is tragic. Best not to ignore signs that state "pool closed" and "no swimming at night." This young man learned the hard way.

A late-night swim ended in tragedy early Tuesday morning, when 22-year-old Netanya native Ariel Soriano was electrocuted in a pool on the Thai island of Ko Phangan. Rabbi Nechemia Wilhelm, director of the Chabad House in Bangkok, said that Chabad would oversee the preparation and transferring of Soriano's body to Israel.

Soriano, who was described by family friend Dan Dobri as a "lovely kid, really responsible and full of life," was halfway through a one-month vacation in Thailand after being released from the army a year ago.

Soriano and his friends had come back from a party at 4 a.m. to Friendly Bungalows, the resort on Ko Phangan's Sunset Beach where they were staying.

Although the pool was closed and there was a sign on the grounds warning against swimming at night, Soriano and his friends entered it anyway.

A cable connected to a pool-cleaning machine fell into the water, and though Soriano's friends were also swimming, he was the only one electrocuted.

"His friends were in the pool with him, but he was closest to the wire," said Dobri, who had spoken earlier with Soriano's friends. "So Ariel took the brunt of the shock. And it took them about a minute to get out of the pool, because they had to disconnect the electricity; it didn't turn off automatically, so they couldn't touch the side of the pool."

Soriano's friends had to run into town to find a doctor.

According to one doctor at a Ko Phangan hospital, some resorts have had private ambulances stationed at large parties in case of emergencies, but since Soriano was electrocuted so late at night, he went without medical treatment for more than half an hour.

"We close the pool at night, so there weren't people around," said Bendi, a worker at Friendly Bungalows.

Dr. Kitti Sak, a doctor at a nearby clinic, was eventually brought to Soriano, whose face had turned purple from a lack of oxygen.

"I determined that he was brain-dead at the pool, since he wasn't responding to light," Sak said.

Soriano was then transported on a stretcher in a tuk-tuk - a motorized cart - to Sak's clinic.

"We used adrenaline for about 40 minutes," Sak said. "But there was nothing we could do. We pronounced him dead at that point."

Rabbi Nechemia Wilhelm, director of the Chabad House in Bangkok, said that a Chabad undertaker would oversee the preparation and transferring of Soriano's body to Israel.

Dobri said that the Foreign Ministry hoped to have Soriano's body back in Israel by Wednesday morning.

Soriano's friends, who had planned to stay in Thailand for two more weeks, were due to arrive in Israel on Tuesday morning.

Ko Phangan is a popular destination for Israelis vacationing after the army. The area is best known for its monthly Full Moon parties, when 10,000 to 20,000 backpackers converge on the beaches in Thailand's southern gulf.


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In the states, any electrical outlets and the like anywhere near water (including in your bathroom, by your kitchen sink, etc.) have to be supplied by what are called ground-fault-interrupter circuits. These are circuit breakers (sometimes in your breaker box but also in stand-alone outlets) which will detect a small current leak (a short) and cut off the power before anyone receives any shock at all from that source.

I've not seen one of those here in Thailand and, of course, the electrical current in Thailand is 240 volts versus 110 volts in the states. And I've heard (but have nothing to support it) that death by electrocution is rather common here in Thailand.

If/when I buy a condo or lease a house/condo long-term, the first thing I intend on improving is the electrical hookups. The idea of the electric water heater next to the shower without ground-fault-interrupter protection is simply insane. Same for the outlets by the kitchen sink and stove and those outside.

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So then you always shower at the same tempeture. I often change the tempeture during the shower.

Usually (not always), the outer case is plastic and there's no direct link to metal parts inside the heater. Yours is likely safe as you're still with us (standing in water and grabbing onto a source of 240-volt electricity doesn't allow for too many repeat performances).

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CHALONG, PHUKET: -- A 17-year-old student of the British International School died from an accidental electrocution on Christmas Day.

Chalong Police Investigator Boonlert Onklang identified the deceased as Anurak Gottschalk, son of a German photographer and his Thai companion who works as a cook aboard a tour boat.

At about 5:30pm, the boy's German uncle and a housemaid found Anurak dead in the bathroom of their home in Chalong Village 9.

They went to check on the boy after realizing that he was taking an unusually long shower.

Anurak's body was covered in electrical burn marks and his hands were still clutching the sprayer when he was discovered.

Rescue workers from the Phuket Ruamjai Kupai Foundation brought the body to Vachira Phuket Hospital, where Anurak was pronounced dead on arrival.

An examination of the body determined cardiac failure resulting from electrical shock as the cause of death.

A malfunctioning water heating unit for the shower is the presumed cause of the tragedy.

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In the rainy season, it is hard not to wade through standing water. I always worry about electrical wires and water. I often see loose wires sticking out of old lamp posts and other places. It is scary.

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