Chinese Tourist Collapses, Drowns While Snorkeling off Koh Sak

Koh Sak island near PattayaA 60-year-old Chinese tourist “collapsed” and drowned Friday afternoon as he was snorkelling with a group of other tourists at Koh Sak island, a few kilometres off the coast of Pattaya.
The elderly man was part of a 15-member Chinese tour group who had joined a snorkelling trip to Koh Sak with three diving instructors at 3 p.m.
The unnamed Chinese tourist was reportedly “unconscious” but still alive when diving staff spotted his motionless body floating in the shallow water. He was given first aid on the diving boat and then taken back to the shore, where he died shortly after in hospital.
The Bangkok Post reports:

While viewing coral reefs for about 20 minutes, one staff member noticed the tourist did not move for quite a while, prompting him to check on him. He found the man unconscious and suspected he might have drowned. The tourist was immediately taken from the snorkelling site to the hospital.

While police suspect that “chronic health conditions, coupled with hot weather” are to blame for the tourist’s death, it’s more likely that the Chinese tourist suffered from “shallow water blackout”, i.e. a sudden loss of consciousness caused by oxygen starvation. The blackout is instantaneous and usually without warning.
According to this site, a diver rendered unconscious by shallow water blackout is a “potential drowning victim,” and while it’s still possible to revive him, he will require immediate “hospitalization and intensive treatment”.
The dedicated website shallowwaterblackout.org.uk paints an even gloomier picture and notes that the unconscious diver “will already have run out of oxygen by the time blackout happens” and he “would need to be brought to the water’s surface within seconds – otherwise your lungs will fill with water and you will drown.”

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