58 still missing after tourist boats capsize in storm off Phuket (Video)

Passengers sit on the deck of a fishing boat that rescued them after their ship capsized near Phuket in Thailand. Screen Grab
Passengers sit on the deck of a fishing boat that rescued them after their ship capsized near Phuket in Thailand. Screen Grab

Scores of Chinese tourists remain missing this morning in the wake of their boat capsizing in rough seas off Thailand’s Phuket island late last night.

Speaking to reporters this morning, the island’s governor said divers were preparing to scour the ship’s sunken hull.

The Phoenix first ran into trouble at about 4pm yesterday, when it was hammered by five-meter-high waves whipped up by a storm.

The boat, which had left the popular snorkelling spot of Koh Racha to return to Phuket, was carrying 103 passengers, mostly Chinese tourists.

Of the 89 tourists and 14 tour guides and ship crews onboard, reports from Phuket provincial police have accounted for 48 people rescued — all 14 guides and shiphands plus 36 tourists. Only one body has so far been recovered, while 11 tourists — two of whom are in critical condition — are known to have sustained injuries. That leaves 53 passengers still unaccounted, reported Post Today.

The Phoenix was among several boats that appeared to have ignored a severe weather warning in place since Wednesday to take tourists on day-trips to the islands that dot the seas off Phuket.

Local Thai media reported that another boat, named Serenata, carrying 42 passengers, also fell victim to the storm storm. Forty of the Serenata’s passengers were successfully rescued while two others, identified as Arun Hashanbin and Shun Hua Fang, a 30-year-old Chinese tourist, have yet to be found.

“We will conduct air searches and send divers to check inside the sunken Phoenix boat,” Phuket governor Noraphat Plothong said, as helicopters, police and fishing boats were deployed.

“Police investigators said most of the tourists were wearing life jackets,” he added.

Today, a Chinese consular official arrived at the operations centre in Phuket to monitor the rescue effort.

Clip released by the Tourist Police showing the horrifying moment of the wave crash

With reporting from AFP.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story listed 93 tourists and 12 crew/tour guides. Those numbers have been updated with new information from Phuket’s Incident Command Center for Vessel Crash Victims and Phuket’s public relations office

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