Dozens dead after tourist boat capsized near Thailand

Cheryl Sanders
July 10, 2018

One survivor, a Chinese woman, was rushed to hospital in Phuket, according to an AFP reporter at the scene, after she was also found several miles from the boat, floating near the bodies of fellow passengers.

The search for another 23 people still missing will resume at 5 am on Saturday, said Prapan Khanprasang, chief of the Phuket Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office.

The death toll jumped after the navy sent divers to enter the wreck of the tour boat, which capsized and sank Thursday evening when it was hit by 5-meter (16-foot) -high waves as it was carrying 105 people, including 93 tourists, 11 crew and one tour guide.

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.

Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong had earlier said that five bodies were found on Saturday, in addition to 37 bodies recovered on Friday.

Thai Channel 7, however, reported 48 people were saved and 49 were missing. The reason for the discrepancy is not known.

All the victims were from the boat "Phoenix", while all 42 people onboard the boat "Serenata" were rescued and safe.

Chinese Ambassador Lyu Jian also had an "emergency conversation" by phone with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, the Chinese Embassy said in a statement.

Stunned survivors huddled in blankets on a Phuket pier late on Thursday, some crying while others appeared dazed as they walked around still wearing their life vests.

Ambassador Lyu said it hoped the cause of the capsizing would be quickly ascertained and asked Somkid to have the relevant Thai agencies closely co-operate with China on the matter. "We have given warnings. but the winds are strong".

Voralak Rerkchaikal, the owner of the dive boat Phoenix, said her company would cooperate with the ongoing efforts to look for the tourist.

More than 90 passengers were onboard when the boat began to keel over, prompting a rescue operation that stretched into the night and left authorities scrambling to react.

Li Ming, who had five family members on board including two seven-year-old nieces, said he and a cousin flew to Phuket from China's eastern Jiangsu province on Saturday after losing contact with their relatives.

The Thai incidents came after an overloaded boat carrying illegal Indonesian immigrants capsized in bad weather off Malaysia's southern Johor state late Sunday.

He noted that investigations were underway, including into the business involved in operating the Phoenix and the business involved in operating the Serendita, which sank off Koh Mai Thon in the same storm on Thursday, but with all 41 people on board rescued.

Forty-three other passengers remain unaccounted for but are believed to have been trapped on the Phoenix, which sank as it was returning from a day trip from Phuket.

Other reports by iNewsToday