The search for survivors — and bodies — from the sinking of the tour boat Phoenix is finally over, and the death toll is sobering: 47.
That’s a bit less than half the passenger list from the tour boat that was carrying almost exclusively Chinese nationals when it sank in rough waters after a snorkeling excursion last Thursday. Fifty-six survived.
As of today, 45 of the bodies have been identified by DNA testing while one is currently undergoing the process. One final victim remains trapped underneath the boat’s wreckage, Pongpanu Svetarundra, a permanent secretary for Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said at a press conference today.
A team of Thai and Chinese divers headed to the sunken ship early this morning in an attempt to retrieve the last body but had not yet returned as of press time.
Ten survivors have since gone back to their respective countries while 25 remain in Thailand. Seven are still being treated in local hospitals in Phuket.
On Saturday, Police Lt. Gen. Sorasak Yenprem announced that the Phoenix’s captain had been charged with “negligence causing damages and loss of life.”
Today, Sorasak said that police have questioned about 100 witnesses in the course of their ongoing investigation, and are taking a number of factors into account, including the fact that the crew ignored weather warnings that day. They also plan to inspect physical aspects of the Phoenix.
Following the disaster, Pongpanu, the tourism secretary, said a government “tourist assistance fund” has been established for humanitarian reasons.
The families of the deceased will receive compensation of THB1 million (about US$300,000), while those who sustained injuries can seek reimbursement for their medical bills up to THB500,000 (US$15,000) per person.
For emotional distress, each tourist will be compensated THB20,000 (US$600). Another THB20,000 will be given to those whose travels were affected.
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