Tourists taking beach selfies while planes take-off have angered airport chiefs – who warned the maximum penalty for distracting pilots is the death sentence.

The stretch of sand next to the busy airport on the island of Phuket in southern Thailand has become a popular attraction with holidaymakers.

Many beachgoers take pictures of themselves with the jets in the background and post the images on social media sites like Instagram.

But airport bosses are furious and have vowed to close off the section of beach amid concerns it could cause an accident.

The executives have not explained how taking pictures of the aircraft could pose a danger but it is believed to relate to the potential to distract pilots in the same way that drones and laser pens can.

Officials told local media that the maximum punishment for distracting pilots with such devices is the death sentence.

Holidaymakers who breach the planned restricted area preventing pictures would be punished under the same law, which carries the death penalty.

Despite the warnings, footage taken this week at the popular selfie spot shows bikini clad women and men in their swimming trunks taking pictures while planes take-off.

Vijit Keawsaitiam, the airport’s Deputy General Manager, said a ‘safety zone’ was in the process of being put in place under the flight path to prevent tourists from taking pictures too close to the planes.

He said: ‘We are setting up a safety zone which will be categorised as a strictly prohibited area that does not allow people and tourists to take pictures. ‘Aside from this area, local people and tourists can still come to take pictures as usual.’

Airport bosses have also warned tourists about flying drones in the area and shining laser pens, which a report found had caused disturbances to pilots.

Anyone found guilty of deliberately distracting the pilots could be punished under the Air Navigation Act.

‘The maximum penalty is the death sentence,’ Mr Wichit told the Bangkok Post.

Less severe punishments include a fine of up to 40,000 baht (950GBP) or a jail sentence of up to 20 years.

Monrudee Gettuphan, a director at the Phuket International Airport, previously told The Phuket News, that officials were ”concerned about the safety of residents and tourists” who use the area while taking selfies near the planes.

The airport official said: ”People need to stay away from the restricted zone. We want to prevent any unknown object or material injuring people, or even their hearing being damaged by the noise of the aircraft’s engines.

”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.”

Daily Mail

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