Tourists who take selfies at this country's airport beach can face the death penalty

Tourists who visit Mai Khao beach on Thailand's island of Phuket may want to think twice before taking a selfie. 

Located near Phuket International Airport on the island's northwestern coast, Mai Khao beach has been a popular destination for thrill-seekers who can watch planes fly extremely low before landing on the airport's runway. Airport officials, however, have voiced concerns that taking selfies can distract pilots and have threatened the maximum penalty—death, in this case—for those who don't stop immediately. 

Authorities have discussed ways to close off the area adjacent to the runway, which has become known as "Unseen Phuket." Deputy airport chief Wichit Kaeothaithiam met with provincial officials earlier this year and said that a new safety zone is currently in development. 

"People and tourists will not be allowed to enter this area to take photos," he told the Chiang Rai Times

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Я это сделал ✈️ . 🇹🇭 . Всем привет, хочу начать с того, как мы добирарались до пляжа, где делают эти чудесные снимки! Нам пришлось проснуться в 6 утра ⏰ - что по СПб - 2 часа ночи! Предстояло проехать 40 км в одну сторону на 🏍, все бы ни чего, но у меня прокололось колесо прямо на трассе, пришлось катить байк до ближайшего Сто, который Мы нашли, но он оказался на противоположной стороне.... ! Где движение сумасшедшее... фух 😌 с этим справились! Далее по приезду, взлетал самолёт.... где своими турбинами снес всех туристов.... все вещи... мгновенно весь пляж упал.... и было что то похожее на ураган 🌪.... именно мы потеряли все ключи 🔑 и от байка и от отеля... и моя колонка 🔈 тоже улетела.... Славу богу нашли все! Кроме ключа от отеля! . В заключение хочу сказать, я не разу не пожалел увидеть это потрясающее зрелище ( по другому это не назвать) всем конечно советую! И я очень счастлив! . Кому понравилась история и конечно фото, поддержите лайком! А с вас ваше мнение о данном месте 🙏🏻 #vetadisco #виталиймалышев #phuket #phuket2019 #thailand

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Specific details regarding the zone were not provided, but tourists and locals can still visit the rest of the beach, where picture-taking is welcome.

"The airport wants to boost tourism revenues, but at the same time, it must make sure there will not be any problem with aviation regulations," Kaeothaithiam told The Phuket News. "Tourism and safety must co-exist." 

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🌪🌩🛩 #srixstyle #beachlife #phuket

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Though there is no concrete evidence that taking a selfie poses a direct danger to pilots, a report revealed complaints over the use of drones and laser pens on the beach, according to the Daily Mail. Anyone found guilty of purposely disturbing the pilots is subject to punishment under the country's Air Navigation Act

"The penalty for anyone failing to comply with this regulation includes the death penalty, a life sentence, or a jail term of between five to 20 years, as per the Air Aviation Act 1978," airport director Monrudee Gettuphan told The Phuket News. 

RELATED: See the places where people risked their lives to take selfies: 

Places where tourists died taking selfies
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Places where tourists died taking selfies

In June 2014, 16-year-old Italian Isabella Fracchiolla tried to take a picture of herself during a school trip to Taranto, a coastal city in southern Italy. She plunged 60 feet onto jagged rocks.

Photo: Getty

In November 2014, Sylwia Rajchel, a 23-year-old Polish medical student, was on vacation in Seville, Spain, when she tried to take a selfie on the famous Puente de Triana bridge. She lost her balance on the ledge and fell 15 feet. 

Photo: Getty

In January 2015, a 21-year-old woman was allegedly on a first date with her long-distance boyfriend when she died taking a photo. A witness said Cheynne Holloway was standing on a large rock on the second highest point of Johannesburg, South Africa, when the boulder gave away and she fell almost fifty feet.

Photo: Getty

In May 2015, Eri Yunanto, 21, was on a hike with fellow students when he fell into the crater of the volcano Mount Merapi in Central Java. He lost his footing while taking a photo and his body was found 320 feet below.

Photo: Getty

Mohamed Aslam Shahul, a 21-year-old Singaporean man, died on an island off the coast of Bali in May 2015 after losing his balance when he was hit by a wave while taking a selfie. He fell into the sea from a 6-foot-high cliff. He reportedly couldn't swim and drowned.

Photo: Getty

A 21-year-old Russian student died trying to take a 'memorable selfie' with friends next to the Moscow International Business Center in July 2015 . Sources conflict on whether the bridge's fence broke while she leaned on it or if she couldn’t hold on to the railing.

Photo: Reuters

Eyewitnesses say a Japanese tourist was snapping a selfie with friends at the Taj Mahal's Royal Gate in September 2015 when he and a friend fell from the staircase of the monument. One man died while the friend only broke his leg.

Photo: Getty

A 28-year-old South Korean tourist trying to take a picture plunged more than than 1,600 feet off of a cliff at the Gocta waterfall in Peru in June 2016. Divers retrieved his body 20 feet under the Amazonian lake.

Photo: Getty

On June 29th, 2016, a German tourist named Oliver Park, 51, was visiting Machu Picchu in Peru when he asked someone to take a photo of him mid-leap in an off-limits area. He slipped off a ledge and fell approximately 130 feet.

Photo: Getty


Since the announcement of the safety zone, the beach's locals have raised objections, claiming that creating a restricted space will hurt business. Many work under a community project that allows locals to operate food stalls and drive tourists from a car park to Mai Khao's most heavily visited area.

"If the beach is closed, we will have serious problems because many tourists simply will not come," Winai Sae-io, head of a local entrepreneurial stimulus program, said. "I want [Airports of Thailand, which operates Phuket International Airport] to look at us and support locals in making [a] living here, too." 

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