Missing Briton Found Drowned in The Mekong River in Southern Laos
Above Photo: John-Paul Conley and Kate Downey. (Gazette Live)
The dangers of travelling in southern Laos were highlighted this week in real life, when a British man was swept away and drowned in the Mekong River as he swam near a waterfall in the Don Khong Island area of the 4,000 Islands, close to the Cambodian border.
John-Paul Conley, from Middlesbrough, was less than five months into a year-long “holiday of a lifetime” in the region with his girlfriend, Kate Downey when he went missing on Tuesday.
It is believed that dangerous currents “dragged” him away from the spot where Miss Downey was waiting on the bank.
On Wednesday night Miss Downey’s brother Lee said it was thought that a safety net should have been in the river to stop swimmers being swept away by the current but was not in place.
On Wednesday police and local volunteers were searching the Don Khong “4,000 Islands” area of southern Laos, overseen by Miss Downey, 33, and James McTiernan, a school friend of Mr Conley’s who runs a mine in the country.
Up to GBP 30,000 was quickly raised by friends and family to find the victim, as his insurance would not cover a search and rescue mission in the area, but unfortunately, his body was discovered by a fishing boat a few days later.
The couple, who had been together for around two years, had travelled to China and visited Buddhist temples in Cambodia before arriving in Laos this month.
In “normal circumstances” a family friend, Mr Ruddy, said he would be “surprised” that Mr Conley could be overpowered by currents but said the waters in the Mekong River could have been particularly strong or unpredictable.
It was initially thought that Mr Conley had landed on one of the many islands in the area, but regrettably this turned out not to be the case.
Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
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© Peter Alan Lloyd
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