Thursday, 21 February, 2019

Dozens missing after boats capsize in Thailand

Image      Phuket in southern Thailand is a hot-spot for tourists Image Phuket in southern Thailand is a hot-spot for tourists
Melinda Barton | 10 July, 2018, 16:14

"Navy searchers found seven dead (on Friday morning)", Busaya Jaipiem, a spokeswoman for Phuket province told AFP, as helicopters scanned the sea and divers tried to reach the sunken boat.

Divers who entered the wreck of a tour boat that sank in a storm off the southern Thai resort island of Phuket described heartbreaking scenes of bodies of children found in the arms of their mothers, as the search continued on Saturday.

The body of the daughter, Xing Yu Jie, was recovered on Friday. Over 130 were onboard the ships, Xinhua reports, including 127 of Chinese nationality.

"The mission will go on", he added.

"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.

Navy divers are scouring the wreckage of a boat that was carrying 105 people, including 93 tourists, 11 crew and one tour guide when it toppled in 5-meter (16-foot) -high seas Thursday.

"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.

The couple was on their honeymoon and managed to escape the sinking boat.

Numerous victims had been on group tours, booked in Phuket and China.

The boat sank 40m below the surface of the Andaman Sea, a few kilometers off the coast of Koh He, an islet known for its coral formations and popular with day-trippers from the tourist magnet of Phuket.

50 family members of those who were not as lucky are now in Phuket to identify bodies or take care of rescued relatives.

Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong said 48 passengers were rescued from the boat, with 49 unaccounted for.

Photos taken after the incident show that some of the people onboard were rescued by a fishing trawler.

Local police chief Sorasak Yenprem said the captain of the Phoenix has been charged with "careless conduct leading to death" and could face more than three years in jail.

The Phoenix was among several boats to ignore the weather warning to take tourists on day-trips to the islands surrounding Phuket.

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

Thailand is already in the global spotlight with a multinational rescue operation to save 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped for days in a mountain cave in its north.

A delegation of Chinese investigators and other officials soon to arrive in Phuket are to be given full support and cooperation, he added.

Jin Yilin, consul-general of the Chinese Embassy in Thailand, said a delegation from the Chinese Foreign Ministry is on the way to Thailand. At least 12 of the injured were hospitalized.

The disaster on Thursday, Thailand's biggest tourist-related in years, didn't appear to deter visitors, with dozens seen leaving on boats Sunday for island diving and cruise trips.