Fifty eight still missing from capsized boats off Phuket

07 July, 2018, 12:57 | Author: Carlos George
  • Image      Phuket in southern Thailand is a hot-spot for tourists

Despite fading hopes, rescuers in Thailand resumed a search on Saturday (Jul 7) for 23 survivors after a boat carrying Chinese tourists sank off the island of Phuket in rough weather, while authorities began to investigate the boat's operator. The boat was carrying 105 passengers while 56 are unacoounted for.

Several other vessels hit trouble late on Thursday, but all of their passengers were rescued.

Police attributed the cause of the incidents to strong sea currents and wind.

Divers reported seeing "over 10 bodies" floating inside the hull of the submerged Phoenix boat, according to Thai navy Rear Adm. Charoenphon Khumrasee. "The first batch of divers spent about 45 minutes there and the second batch followed for an additional search", Charoenpon said.

Initial reports from officials said all of the passengers on those boats were rescued.

Thailand's navy said nine bodies of Chinese tourists were being brought to Phuket.

He said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds. A helicopter continued to aid in the search operation.

A Marine Department official said there was probably "no chance" any more survivors could be found from inside the boat.

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The accidents came as rescuers, also led by Thai navy divers, support 12 boys and their soccer coach stranded almost two weeks inside a flooded cave in the country's far north, and try to determine how and when to extract them.

Weather satellites showed numerous thunderstorms off the coast of Phuket throughout Thursday evening, producing waves greater than 3 meters in some areas, according to the Thailand Meteorological Department.

Severe weather including heavy rain and winds were forecast until Tuesday.

Norraphat said there was one dead, 58 missing this morning and Thai Navy and other authorities found two people, a Chinese and a Thai, alive who was on board a boat called Senereta earlier on Friday and thus all 42 passengers which were on Senereta survived the capsizal incident.

The Chinese ambassador and Beijing thanked the Thai counterpart for the rescue efforts to help find the missing passengers and for providing measures to help the affected tourists.

Weerasak said the Phoenix has a licence issued to the TC Blue Dream Company and the business has bought insurance for passengers.

Chinese tourists make up the biggest number of foreign visitors to Thailand, their numbers surging in recent years, drawn by the growing popularity of the southeast Asian nation's islands.

Road and boat accidents involving tourists are common in Thailand, where safety standards are sometimes well below worldwide norms.

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