Death toll rises to 42 in Thailand boat accident as rescue operation continues

Jul. 09, 2018 11:03:00

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Members of Thai rescue team search for missing passengers from the capsized boat in the accident area in Phuket, Thailand, on July 7, 2018. Photo released by Xinhua

Death toll rises to 42 in Thailand boat accident as rescue operation continues

By Yang Zhou

At least 42 people were confirmed dead and 14 others remained missing after two boats capsized in a storm off southern Thailand's Phuket island, Thai officials said on Saturday (July 7).

Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong told Xinhua that the Thai authorities found five bodies in the "Phoenix" tourist boat sunk some 30 to 40 meters under water Saturday morning, and they, along with two Chinese rescue teams, found another three in the boat Saturday afternoon.

Later, the Phuket government added that divers actually found nine bodies, but it was difficult to move the ninth body pressed by the sunken boat to the seabed.

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A rescue team departure from a dock to the accident area in Phuket, Thailand, on July 6, 2018. Photo by Qin Qing

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Members of Thai rescue team prepare to search for missing passengers from the capsized boat in the accident area in Phuket, Thailand, on July 8, 2018. Photo by Qin Qing

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A rescue team search for victims in Phuket, Thailand, on July 6, 2018. Photo released by Xinhua

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Members of Thai rescue team prepare to search for missing passengers from the capsized boat in the accident area in Phuket, Thailand, on July 8, 2018. Photo by Qin Qing

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Members of Thai rescue team disscuss with Chinese rescue team during the search for missing passengers from the capsized boat in Phuket, Thailand, on July 8, 2018. Photo by Qin Qing 

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Members of Thai and Chinese rescue team prepare to search for missing passengers from the capsized boat in Phuket, Thailand, on July 8, 2018. Photo released by Xinhua

Rear Admiral Charoenphol Koomrasee, deputy commander of the Third Fleet of the Royal Thai Navy, said that with 17 professional divers from the Chinese rescue teams joining, they scoured the wreckage of "Phoenix" on Saturday.

"After clearing the wreckage to make sure there is no one trapped inside anymore... we will pay more attention to the surface," Charoenphol said.

The deputy commander added that they were racing against the clock to find those who were still unaccounted for and they had dispatched three helicopters, eight ships and around 800 rescuers, including divers, for the 24-hour search.

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Rescued tourists are seen on a boat near the island of Phuket, Thailand, on July 5, 2018. Photo released by Xinhua

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Rescue team members carry the body of a victim in Phuket, Thailand, on July 6, 2018. Photo released by Xinhua

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Rescued tourists are seen on life rafts near the island of Phuket, Thailand, July 5, 2018. Photo released by Xinhua

Two boats carrying over 130 foreign tourists, mainly Chinese, capsized in high tides and strong winds off the southern Thai resort island of Phuket on Thursday afternoon.

All the victims were from the boat "Phoenix," while all 42 people onboard the boat "Serenata" were rescued and safe.

Phuket Governor Norraphat said the Thai government had set up service counters in Phuket Airport to assist relatives of the victims who were coming to Phuket.

For the injured tourists, the Thai government would cover all their medical expenses. Relatives of each of the deceased tourist would get some 1.4 million baht (42,200 U.S. dollars) as compensation based on the boat's insurance and Thai laws, he said.

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Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lü Jian (1st from right) attends a press conference in Phuket, Thailand, on July 7, 2018. Photo by Qin Qing

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Survived tourist Huang Junxiong is carried back to his bed-ward on wheelchair at a hospital on Phuket island, Thailand, on July 7, 2018. Photo by Qin Qing

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Injured Chinese tourist Huang Junxiong talks with Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lü Jian at a hospital on Phuket island, Thailand, on July 7, 2018. Photo by Qin Qing

Chinese Ambassador Lü Jian, who visited injured Chinese tourists in a local hospital on Saturday, called on Thai authorities to quickly mobilize an intensive search for the missing and "tend and make appropriate arrangements for the rescued Chinese tourists, treat and cure the injured and receive family members of the Chinese tourists involved."

According to the Chinese Consulate-General in Songkhla, 78 Chinese tourists have been rescued following the tragic accident.

"The boat was listing very badly," said a Chinese survivor with his surname Huang who was aboard the "Phoenix."

The tourist boat capsized soon after water began to pour into the vessel, recalled Huang, adding that the crew members released a life raft after passengers were swept into the sea.

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Survived tourist Lin Hongzheng recalls his experience during the boats capsizing accident at a hospital on Phuket island, Thailand, on July 7, 2018. Photo by Qin Qing

"We were helpless at that time," said another Chinese man with the surname of Lin while recalling the last seconds on the capsized "Phoenix."

"I was shivering when rains lashed me and I felt very cold when floating in the sea," he said. The tour guide asked the passengers to wear life jackets before the boat overturned, Lin added.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Saturday expressed his "sympathies and deepest condolences" to the bereaved families.

Prayut said the government would exert all efforts to find those still missing and provide support to all survivors of this tragic event as soon as possible.

The prime minister ordered the creation of a command center for the rescue operation in Phuket. He also ordered departments and agencies involved to launch an investigation into the accident and identify those responsible for the tragedy.

In order to provide the public with clear and accurate information, regular briefings will be held in the command center.

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Rescued tourists receive medical treatment on the island of Phuket, Thailand, on July 5, 2018. Photo released by Xinhua

The prime minister urged the public not to circulate photos of the victims to protect their privacy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese embassy and consulates in Thailand to take greater measures in the rescue operation, and urged the Thai government and agencies to spare no efforts in search and rescue, and provide proper medical treatment for the injured.

A Chinese government joint working group arrived in Phuket Friday (July 6) night and held the first joint meeting with the Thai side on the same day. (PHUKET, Thailand 2018-07-07 22:55:50)


Xi asks for all-out rescue of the missing in Thailand boat capsizing

By Fu Shuangqi, Cheng Zhuo, Jia Zhao

President Xi Jinping on Friday (July 6) called for all-out search and rescue of Chinese nationals who remained missing after two boats capsized in Phuket, Thailand.

In an instruction made after the accidents, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese embassy and consulates to Thailand to take greater measures, and urged the Thai government and agencies to spare no efforts in search and rescue and to provide proper medical treatment for the injured.

Two boats with tourists on board capsized in waters near Phuket during rainstorms on Thursday evening. As of Friday evening, 16 of a total of 127 Chinese passengers were reported to have died, 33 were missing and 78 were rescued.

Xi asked authorities to warn travel agencies and travelers against risks and help them take precautions during summer holidays.

Stressing thorough search and rescue efforts, Premier Li Keqiang called on authorities to deal properly with the aftermath of the accidents, protect the rights and interests of Chinese nationals abroad and ensure their safety.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese embassy and consulates to Thailand had activated the emergency response mechanism and are actively coordinating the search and rescue mission in Thailand, as well as the treatment of injured Chinese.

Ministries of foreign affairs, transport, and culture and tourism had sent a joint task force to Phuket. (BEIJING 2018-07-06 22:50:07)

 

Two captains charged in Phuket tour boats accident in Thailand

By Yan Hao

Local Thai police said Sunday (July 8) they have charged two captains with negligence for the capsizing of two boats on Thursday in the seawaters of southern Thailand which has left 42 dead and 14 still missing.

Local police authority said the captain of boat Phoenix had been charged with negligence causing deaths and the captain of boat Serenita had been charged with negligence causing physical and mental damage to others.

Both boats, Phoenix and Serenita, were overturned in rough seas off the coast of Phuket island Thursday (July 5) afternoon with more than 130 tourists and crew on board, among whom 127 were Chinese. Phuket provincial governor Norraphat Plodthong confirmed that all the dead and missing passengers were Chinese.

At a joint press conference held at Chalong Pier on the island Sunday, Police Major General Theerapol Thipcharoen, the Phuket Police Chief, said that the authority had summoned the two captains for further investigation on the cause of the accident.

Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kowsurat said that the Thai government had paid high attention to the rescue and other work for the accident. The government will not give up searching the missing passengers and will not tolerate anyone accountable for legal responsibilities.

According to Lü Jian, Chinese ambassador to Thailand, Chinese staff will join in Thai authorities' investigation on the cause of the accident. The ambassador also asked the Thai government to improve tourism environment and management in order to further strengthen China-Thailand tourism cooperation in the future.

Two rescue teams from China joined Thai military on Sunday to search for the missing. According to the governor, rescue teams of both countries conducted underwater search for the missing around the sunken Phoenix. Thai navy and air force searched on the surface of the water and in the air.

To help family members of the dead and injured with aftercare issues, local government has set up liaison stations in Phuket international airport, Phuket Provincial Administration Organization Hospital and Vachira Phuket Hospital. A service center was also set up at Phuket provincial government office.

So far more than 50 Chinese have arrived in Phuket to identify their family members who died in the accident and take care their injured family members.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation. (PHUKET 2018-07-08 21:24:11)

 Editor: Miao Hong

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