Friday, 20 July, 2018

Chinese dead in boat sinking off Thai island, 23 missing

TWITTER/@FM91TRAFFICPRO TWITTER/@FM91TRAFFICPRO
Faye Gross | 08 July, 2018, 11:12

Local authorities are expecting the death toll to continue to rise.

Officials said that divers reported seeing at least another ten bodies inside the sunken hull of the Phoenix tourist vessel, which sank yesterday afternoon.

"It's hard... it's traumatic... as you can imagine when you find dead bodies, children, kids, in the arms of the mother in the wreck", said Philippe Entremont, the manager of a Phuket dive shop who was helping coordinate the underwater search.

Authorities had initially said 49 people were unaccounted for after five-meter-high waves slammed into the boat carrying.

He said that two boats carrying a total of 146 passengers and crew 129 of whom were Chinese tourists sank on Thursday near the popular tourist destination 840 kilometres south of Bangkok.

There were 105 people on board, including 93 tourists, 11 crew members and one guide, and 33 are now confirmed dead. Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds. Gen. Teerapol Tipcharoen, commander of provincial police on the tourist island of Phuket.

In a separate incident in the same area at around the same time, another boat carrying 39 people - reportedly Chinese and European tourists - also capsized.

Weerasak said the ministry has set up a coordination centre for efforts to help the tourists.

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Fifteen people are still missing but two days later flickers of hope for miracle survivals are all but extinguished. The boat, which went down about 7km from shore, was properly registered and had not been overloaded, police said.

"Police investigators said most of the tourists were wearing life jackets".

The Phoenix was among several boats to ignore the weather warning to take tourists on day-trips to the islands surrounding Phuket. The minister added that Thailand has to do its best to rescue those who are missing, take care of those injured and help relatives of the victims to prepare for their funeral.

The accident comes as Thailand is already embroiled in an effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach who are trapped inside a flooded cave.

"There were high winds this evening", he said, adding that a weather warning had been issued because of "strong winds and storms" on Wednesday.

Phuket draws hordes of overseas visitors, including Western sun-seekers and huge numbers of Chinese tourists who make up almost one-third of the 35 million people expected to visit Thailand this year.

Thailand has poor road and boat safety records.

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