POLICE are investigating the mystery death of a Swiss embassy official whose body was found near a waterfall on a Thai island as tourists flock back after Covid.

The body was found face down in a rock crevice and covered in a black sheet near Ao Yon waterfall on Phuket island, Thai cops said.

Local authorities identified the victim as Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, a 57-year-old Swiss national, and allege she was raped and murdered.

Nicole was last seen in CCTV footage walking alone past Ao Yon beach at 11:33am on Tuesday.

According to the police, the woman who had arrived at Phuket airport from Singapore on July 13, had already been dead for three days when she was located. She had been reported missing since Tuesday.

It's reported she was the Assistant Chief of Protocol of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland.

The police found a pair of blue sports shoes and a black backpack, as well as underwear and a phone close to Nicole's corpse, while she herself was wearing only a T-shirt and jacket at the time when she was discovered.

Security on the island has been ramped up as officials try to calm tourists who flocked there as part of the "sandbox" scheme.

Under the programme, double-jabbed holidaymakers are allowed on the island for 14 days without having to self-isolate and on to maintain Thailand after the fortnight and three negative Covid tests.

Meanwhile, Swiss embassy officials laid flowers at a vigil for Nicole at Dusit Thani Laguna and were joined by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew.

In an emotion speech, Woonciew said residents were "devastated" by Nicole's hideous death.

"It is hard to comprehend the senseless loss of such a beautiful life. And our hearts hang heavy with grief.

"Ms Nicole loved Phuket, and this beach was among her favourite places. Her home away from home.

"As we honour her memory here together this evening, I ask that we all reconfirm our commitment to the island – and each other."

It is hard to comprehend the senseless loss of such a beautiful life. And our hearts hang heavy with grief.

Kitirath Phanpetch, Phuket regional police commander, said the woman was spotted by a local resident on Thursday afternoon.

He said: "From what we saw at the scene, the body was covered with a black sheet, which suggests it was done by someone and she did not die of natural causes."

Deputy Inspector General Wuttichai Chanfai said: "We received the report at 1:30 pm that the body of the foreign woman was found.

"The police and doctors that arrived at the scene found the body face down in the crevice of waterfall rocks, where her body was covered with a black sheet. Her lower body was bare.

"From the condition of the body, we estimate that she had been dead for at least 48 hours.

"This is a remote and isolated waterfall that only an expert would know how to reach.'

Cops are still waiting for autopsy results to determine the cause of death, which is expected later on Friday.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed his condolences to the woman's family and called on the cops to "expedite the investigation".

Switzerland's Foreign Ministry would only confirm the 57-year-old woman's death, but refused to release any details about her because of privacy protection laws, saying: "Investigations into the circumstances are underway."

The "sandbox" programme began in July and has raised more than $41million for the country's ailing tourism industry, which was battered by the Covid pandemic.

According to Thai government figures, the top five nationalities to visit are American, British, Israeli, German and French.

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