Boats capsize in Thailand leaving dozens missing

06 July, 2018, 20:44 | Author: Myra Gill

PHUKET, Thailand Thai authorities suspended the search for missing tourists who were on a boat that sank during a storm off the southern resort island of Phuket, as the death toll rose to 33, all of them Chinese nationals.

The death toll from the sinking of a tourist boat off Thailand's Phuket island has risen to 27 as rescue efforts continue to locate 29 people still missing.

There were 105 people - 93 tourists, 12 crew and tour guides on board the Phoenix when it capsized at Laem Mong in front of Koh Hae on Thursday evening.

"A command centre has been set up at Chalong Bay pier".

Phuket governor Noraphat Plodthong said the tourists might be alive as there has been no sign of dead bodies in the sea.

According to the Phuket disaster prevention and mitigation office, at least 10 people had been confirmed dead. "At least two (more) bodies will be transferred to this port soon", Archayon Kraithong, deputy commissioner of Thailand's Tourist police, told AFP.

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

One of the vessels, reportedly returning to Phuket from Koh Racha in the Andaman Sea, was carrying around 100 passengers when it overturned.

An investigation has been ordered into why the boats went out, despite severe weather warnings.

Another 39 people were saved when a second boat, carrying mostly European passengers, overturned at about the same time.

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

Navy official Narong Aurabhakdi said some of the bodies were found by divers who entered the wreck Friday and others were floating in the water.

It went down about seven kilometres from shore and had sunk to a depth of about 38 to 40 meters, the Royal Thai Marine Corps said in an earlier statement.

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.

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.

Thailand has a poor health and safety record and accidents are common on its roads and busy waterways - especially in tourist areas during the monsoon season which is now biting.



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