Two young British tourists who met while backpacking have been murdered after partying on a beach at a popular island resort on Koh Tao.
Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth, and David Miller, 24, from Jersey, were found half-naked with several deep wounds to their bodies near a beachside bungalow on the island of Koh Tao, Thai police said.
A local police official told reporters that the pair had been murdered with a garden hoe found nearby on the island, which is popular for its serene beaches and diving sites.
Locals were reported to have blockaded Koh Tao’s only pier to prevent the killer escaping. According to the Daily Telegraph, however, the local police chief, Colonel Songsak, said a British man who may have known Miller had left the island.
Pol Col Prachum Ruangthong revealed the woman had injuries to her face. He said a bloodied garden hoe used in the gruesome attack and bloodstained clothes were found near the bodies.
Another local police chief said the pair were believed to have travelled separately to Koh Tao, a famous island for backpackers in Surat Thani province, and met while staying at the same budget hotel beside the beach.
CCTV showed they went to the same bar and left together at 01:00 early Monday, Maj Gen Kiattipong Khawsamang said. Local media reports said there had been a beach party for about 50 people, mainly tourists, on Sunday night that continued into Monday morning.
Ms Witheridge is believed to have been travelling with three other friends while Miller is thought to have arrived on the holiday resort island with two others.
Local police official Jakkrapan Kaewkhao said the two travellers had arrived in Thailand separately on 25 August. “Their bodies were found 30 metres from the bungalow,” he said.
An employee at the seaside resort where the pair had been staying told AFP that the bodies were found behind large rocks on the beach. “It was the first time this has happened in the isle, I have never seen anything like this,” the staff member added, requesting anonymity.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed the murder: “We are aware of the death of two British nationals on 15 September on the island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand. The embassy is urgently seeking information from the local authorities and stands ready to provide consular assistance.”
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- October 3, 2014: "Murder of British backpackers on Koh Tao solved, say Thai police" ( theguardian.com )
- December 26, 2014: "Koh Tao murders: suspects in killing of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge say they were framed" ( telegraph.co.uk )
- December 24, 2015: "Thailand backpacker murders: Burmese workers sentenced to death" ( theguardian.com )