Thursday, 14 November, 2019

Dozens of tourists missing after boat overturns off Thailand shore

Patty Aguilar | 06 July, 2018, 00:37

At least 48 passengers were rescued by a fishing trawler when one of the vessels, carrying 97 people, overturned in strong winds and rough seas.

All 39 passengers in the second boat have been rescued.

Police Lt. Colonel Somsak Sophakarn, the deputy chief of Phuket's Chalong Provincial Police Station, said one of the boats, the Phoenix PC Diving boat, had some 90 passengers on board, most of whom were Chinese tourists.

Footage and images captured in Phuket showed tourists huddling in blankets, while others looked distressed as medics tended to the injured.

The boat was returning to Phuket from Koh Racha at around 4:00 pm (0900 GMT) when a storm hit, according to the captain, who identified himself as Somjing Boontham in a televised interview.

"They were all wearing life jackets."
"They were all Chinese visitors - apart from two farang", he said using Thai vernacular for westerners, adding around half the passengers were unaccounted for.

They are said to have been a group of Chinese tourists. The reason for the discrepancy is not known.

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Forty-eight people have been rescued and taken to shore, he said.

Photographs circulating on social media showed soaked and exhausted passengers - majority Asian - in life jackets being pulled on inflatable rafts to safety.

He said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds.

"We have given warnings ... but the winds are strong."

They said they were providing food, shelter and water to the people, and if the weather did not clear, larger boats belonging to the navy would be sent to retrieve them.

Thailand is bracing for the arrival of the monsoon season, which will bring heavy rain and storms to the area.

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