BANGKOK (AFP) – The naked bodies of two British tourists were found beaten to death on a Thai beach Monday, police said, sparking a murder hunt on the popular resort island of Koh Tao.
The unidentified man and woman, both aged 24, were found with several wounds near a beachside bungalow on the island, a diving hot-spot near Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand.
A bloodied hoe was found 35 metres (115 feet) from the murder scene, local police official Jakkrapan Kaewkhao told AFP.
“They were murdered and found naked on the beach. The woman had three wounds on her face and the man had four wounds on his back,” he added. “Their bodies were found 30 metres from (the) bungalow,” he said, adding the pair arrived in Thailand on August 25.
Police were told at 6.30am (2330 GMT Sunday) and are interviewing witnesses but have yet to identify a suspect or motive, he added.
Distraught friends of the victims gathered at the local police station, another officer said. Checkpoints have been set up at the island’s piers although the ferries are still running.
“This is a very cruel crime,” Prachum Ruangthong, superintendent of Koh Phangan police station, told AFP, adding the bodies would be sent for forensic examination in Bangkok.
Witnesses told police the pair was earlier seen dancing at a local bar, Prachum said. In a statement the British Embassy in Bangkok said officials are “urgently seeking information from local authorities”.
“Consular staff stand ready to provide assistance to friends and family at this tragic time,” it added.
A shocked employee at the budget seaside resort where they were staying told AFP the bodies were found behind large rocks on the beach.
“It was the first time this has happened on the island, I have never seen anything like this,” the staff member added, requesting anonymity.
Koh Tao is popular with tourists but draws fewer travellers than the neighbouring Koh Phangan.