Thai authorities work to salvage sunken boat; search on for 14 missing

Phuket boat accident: Vessels CAPSIZE in Thailand – 49 missing | Daily Star

Phuket boat accident: Vessels CAPSIZE in Thailand – 49 missing | Daily Star

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.

Numerous dead were found drifting face down in the water, still wearing life jackets, several kilometers from where the three-decker vessel Phoenix sank after being hit by five-meter (15-foot) high waves in a storm on Thursday evening, Agence France-Presse reported.

"One body was found late Thursday, and the remainder on Friday".

Divers on Friday reported seeing "over 10 bodies" floating inside the hull of the boat, which is submerged 40 metres below the surface of the Andaman Sea.

A search has resumed for some 23 missing tourists on a boat that sank during a storm off the southern resort island of Phuket.

"The skies were clear when we went out, we had no idea the weather could change so fast", AFP quoted one of the survivors, Wu Jun, 28, as saying 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".

Another tourist boat carrying 39 people sunk off the southeast coast of Phuket.

Some relatives gathered at a hospital on Phuket where they were asked to provide information about their loved ones, including identifying marks or tattoos.

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

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Phuket Gov. Norraphat Plodthong announced the latest death toll at a news conference on Saturday evening, two days after the boat capsized and sank after being hit by 5-meter (16-foot) waves.

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

Thai junta number two Prawit Wongsuwon ordered an investigation into why "the boat went to sea" despite a weather warning, while Thai police said they would seek to charge the captain and owner with negligence.

The accident comes as Thailand is already embroiled in an effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach who are trapped inside a flooded cave.

A Chinese consular official arrived at the operations center in Phuket to monitor the rescue effort.

"[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.

"One person is dead, 11 injured (2 have severe injuries, 5 minor) and 56 are missing".

Chinese tourists make up the biggest foreign visitors to Thailand, with numbers surging in recent years due to the increasing popularity of Thailand's islands.

Thailand has a poor record on road and boat safety, according to Reuters.

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