Published: Sat, July 07, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Governor: 49 missing as boat overturns in seas off Thailand

Governor: 49 missing as boat overturns in seas off Thailand

Dozens of people are still missing in waters off the Thai resort island of Phuket after a diving boat packed with tourists capsized in a storm.

A yacht called the Senerita carrying 39 people also capsized in the high seas, the officials added.

Thai junta number two Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered an investigation into why it appeared to have ignored a weather warning, while police said they would seek to charge the captain and owner with negligence.

In a grisly development, divers reported seeing "over 10 bodies" floating inside the hull of the submerged boat, according to Thai navy Rear Admiral Charoenphon Khumrasee, who said they would try to retrieve them later today.

In a statement the Marines said: "We will search under the belly of the boat".

"I'm not really sure how many will survive", a grim-faced Noraphat Plodthong, the governor of Phuket, told reporters.

Authorities plucked the lifeless bodies - many of which were face down and wearing life jackets - from the Andaman Sea several miles from where the boat sank Thursday night off the coast of Koh He.

Thailand's navy said nine bodies of Chinese tourists were being brought to Phuket.

The storm yesterday which caused waves of up to five metres high also overturned the yacht "Serenitta", throwing 42 of its passengers into the raging sea, with 40 of them rescued and two still missing.

"Helicopters will search for those who may have floated out".

Weather satellites showed numerous thunderstorms off the coast of Phuket throughout Thursday evening, producing waves greater than 3 meters in some areas, according to the Thailand Meteorological Department.

Tour operators had been warned about the severe weather, Tourist Police bureau deputy chief, Major General Surachate Hakparn, said.

The death toll from the sinking of a tourist boat off Thailand's Phuket island rose to 27 on Friday as rescue efforts continued to locate 29 people still missing.

Footage shared on Facebook showed officials at a pier gathering information as the rescue operation unfolded in darkness behind them.

Thailand is already making global headlines after 12 boys and their junior soccer coach were found alive this week after becoming trapped inside a cave in the country's north.

Several other vessels hit trouble late on Thursday.

The Chinese embassy in Bangkok said it had sent a team to Phuket to help and consulate staff in southern Thailand were on the scene helping their citizens. The fates of passengers aboard that vessel are unknown, Sophakarn said. Visitors to Thailand from China totalled more than 9.8 million people in 2017, constituting the largest share by country of a record 35.38 million foreign tourists in all.

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