A Chinese man has died and 56 other people are missing after a tourist boat capsized on Thursday in turbulent waters off the coast of Thailand’s popular Phuket tourist island.
The boat, called the Phoenix, was carrying 105 passengers, including 93 Chinese tourists and 12 Thai crew and tourist guides, when it capsized, officials said on Friday. They said a rescue operation was underway to find the missing 56.
The Water Safety Department of the Harbour Department said: “One person is dead, 11 injured (2 have severe injuries, 5 minor) and 56 are missing.
“We continue to gather a team to search for them.
“Forty-eight were saved.”
Phuket governor Norraphat Plodthong said on Thursday night that 48 passengers were rescued from the boat, with 49 unaccounted for. Police previously said 90 people had been rescued from the boat and just seven were missing. The reason for the discrepancies was not clear.
Phuket officials had earlier issued a warning of severe weather until Tuesday, including heavy rain and winds.
“All agencies are co-operating in their search at this time,” Norraphat said. “We have given warnings … but the winds are strong.”
He said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds. Report said 12 boats with 263 passengers in all had been forced by the weather to stay docked at Racha island, a popular diving spot about an hour’s boat ride from Phuket.
Many tour operators have complained about lax enforcement when it comes to basic safety measures, including seatbelts in cars and lifejackets on boats.