Forty nine missing after boat capsizes off Thailand's Phuket island

Frederick Owens
July 10, 2018

The vessel, which made a day trip from Phuket despite a weather warning, keeled over after it was battered by five-metre high storm waves.

"Right now officials from the marine police and navy are helping to dive at the spot where the boat sank", Thailand's Marine Police said in a statement.

The three-decker boat was carrying 105 passengers, mostly Chinese tourists, when it sank.

"The skies were clear when we went out, we had no idea the weather could change so fast", said Wu Jun, 28, from the hospital bedside of his wife Long Hai Ning.

Accidents like the Phoenix disaster are bad for Thailand, said tourist police official Surachate Hakparn, adding: "We have to be more stringent".

While some 48 passengers and crew managed to flee the sinking vessel by jumping into the sea or mounting life rafts, many were trapped in the main lounge as the pleasure boat plummeted 40 meters into the Andaman Sea.

Many tour operators have complained about lax enforcement of basic safety measures, such as seatbelts in cars and lifejackets on boats.More than 20 people were killed when a tourist boat carrying 150 people capsized in Thailand's ancient city of Ayutthaya in 2016.

Rescued tourist Huang Junxiong is wheeled back to his bed at the Vachira Phuket Hospital.

Helicopters continued to scan the water Friday afternoon in what appeared to be an increasingly forlorn hunt for survivors.

Phuket Gov. Norraphat Plodthong said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds.

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The Malaysian coast guard said Friday that 25 people, including a woman, have been rescued.

On Saturday, local police accused the captain of one ship of negligence causing death, although he reportedly denied the claim.

Seas were rough on Friday and a weather warning was issued, but that didn't deter several tourist boats and other sea vehicles.

Other photos showed Thai rescue personnel delivering injured passengers onto Chalong pier in Phuket for medical treatment.

Thailand is already in the global spotlight as a multinational effort to rescue 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped for days in a northern mountain cave picks up pace.

"Half of them were rescued, the operation is still ongoing", an official at the department, which is based in Bangkok told the Agence France-Presse (AFP), requesting not to be named.

"[China's] Ministry of Foreign Affairs has immediately activated an emergency response system and take the lead to organize a multi-ministry working group which is on their way to Thailand for assistance", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

This comes after at least six people died when an "overcrowded" ferry in Indonesia carrying 139 passengers sank after being battered by giant 13ft waves.

Chinese Ambassador Lyu Jian, left, greets Chinese divers before sending them off to join a search mission for missing passengers from a capsized tourist boat in the water off Phuket, Thailand.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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