KOH TAO: The mother of a missing Russian tourist has arrived on the resort island of Koh Tao, while DNA results on bones that were believed to belong to the woman have proved negative.
Despite launching a full-scale land and sea search for Valentina Novozhyonova , authorities have so far failed to find the 23-year-old tourist, who checked into a hotel on Koh Tao on February 11 and went missing four days later.
The search team found five pieces of what was initially thought to be human flesh and bone at the location where she is thought to have gone snorkeling. A green vest and goggles were also discovered about 400 metres from the Ao Chalok Ban Kao beach resort where she was staying.
All of the evidence was sent for DNA tests at the Institute of Forensic Science of the Royal Thai Police. However, the results showed the flesh was not human and a DNA sample from the cloth did not match that of the missing woman.
Following the results, police plan to hold a meeting to discuss the next steps in the search. They are also waiting to question a friend of the woman who has promised to return from the Philippines to meet them next week.
Meanwhile, Surat Thani Provincial Police commander Maj Gen Apichart Boonsriroj said authorities are focusing on ‘water accident’ as the likely cause of the Russian’s mysterious disappearance, based on her social media account ‘preferences’.
“We still give more importance to a water accident than other possible causes. It’s not about crime because Ms Novozhenova [is known to have] liked to do free diving alone,” he said.
She wanted to beat her personal record for diving, indicated as 22 meters in her Facebook post.
“We’ve tried to update the Russian embassy about the search even though they didn’t ask us to do that. We did not find [any] more objects of evidence this morning,” Gen Apichart said on Friday.
— The Nation
Missing Woman’s mother arrives in Koh Tao: “She had never dived in the sea before”, she says
The mother of missing Russian tourist Valentina Novozhyonova said that her daughter had been learning to dive in Russia for four years.
But all her experience was in swimming pools – she had no experience of diving in the sea.
Her mother – who was not named in the Thai Rath story – told police yesterday that she is convinced that her daughter is missing because of an accident while diving.
She gave her own DNA to help with the investigation as divers continued to search new areas of the sea around Koh Tao on Saturday.
Meanwhile Surat governor Apichart Bunsrirot held a video conference with police from all over the province of Surat Thani to discuss the way forward.
Missing persons posters have now been posted on neighboring Koh Pangan to try to get a lead in the case.
Valentina has not been seen since mid February. Body parts found on Friday thought to be her, turned out to be animal not human.
Other items including a singlet are still being checked for DNA.
Her mother said that Valentina recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree. She was a person who loved nature, forest walks and diving, she said.
Police are also waiting for the return of a Russian “dive buddy” who is currently in the Philippines. It is hoped that he may be able to shed some light on the case.