A cruise vessel carrying at least 80 passengers crashed ran aground in the wee hours of this morning off the southern island of Phi Phi, damaging the hull and causing it to take on water.
The La Belle Des Oceans was transporting passengers from Koh Lanta back to Phuket during low tide when it struck and became stuck on a rock pile. There were no reports of injuries.
Multiple reports indicate local naval officials were alerted and dispatched a patrol vessel, the HTMS Sriracha, to help free and escort the boat to port at Phuket.
The ship has seven decks and runs 103 meters in length with capacity for 120 passengers. It was built in 1989 according to information available online and was recently purchased by French cruise operator CroisiEurope. It was scheduled to depart from Singapore last month for a cruise to Thailand and Malaysia before heading to India and reaching Greece by March, according to a trade publication.
The ship’s captain was to be questioned to get to the bottom of why the ship ran aground, Thairath reported.
Maritime incidents involving local operators, often fatal and involving tourists, are all too common in the Thai south. Last year nearly 50 people drowned when the Phoenix went down in a powerful storm after colliding with another boat. All of those killed or missing were Chinese tourists from the Phoenix, which had been carrying 103 passengers. Thirteen of the dead were children; three were never found.
The tragedy, which struck as the world’s attention was fixed on the rescue of a football team trapped in a cave, was described by Phuket’s governor as “secondary to the tsunami,” and its mishandling precipitated a sharp decline in travel from China.
This is a developing story and may be updated without notice.