Possibly Missing as Rough Seas Overturn Boats in South

08 July, 2018, 02:32 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
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One of the boats was carrying 42 people, all of whom were rescued, according to the New York Times.

The other, carrying 39 people - reportedly Chinese and European tourists - also capsized in a separate incident in the same area.

The Royal Thai Navy said "quite a few bodies" had been found inside the sunken vessel, while others were found floating in the water. In announcing a previous death toll of 33, authorities said all of those victims were Chinese.

"The number of tourists whose bodies have already been recovered and the number of those still listed as missing totals 56 people".

The Phoenix was among several boats that appeared to have ignored a warning in place since Wednesday not to take tourists on day-trips to the islands that dot the seas off Phuket.

An initial report said all of the passengers were pulled from the sea alive but the official who spoke to AFP could not provide any further information.

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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.

Ambassador Lyu said it hoped the cause of the capsizing would be quickly ascertained and asked Somkid to have the relevant Thai agencies closely cooperate with China on the matter.

Thailand is in the middle of its rainy season, which usually runs from May to mid-October and often generates high winds and flash storms in coastal areas.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan ordered a probe into why "the boat went to sea" despite a weather warning of strong wind.

The director of Vachira Phuket Hospital is calling for donations of freezer units to store bodies from the Phoenix tour boat disaster as the morugues at hospital on the island can not cope with sheer number of bodies.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said a taskforce was on its way to Thailand.

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Last year 9.8 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand, with five million more arriving between January and May this year.

It is one of the worst boat disasters in the recent history of Thailand, a nation with a poor health and safety track record despite being heavily dependent on tourism.

Another boat also overturned off Phuket on Thursday.

Images on Thursday showed rescued people in large rubber life rafts, with fishing boats and churning seas in the background.

Most of Thailand's diving experts have been diverted to the north to a rescue operation at a flooded cave where 12 schoolboys have been trapped for two weeks.

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