Thailand boat sinking – At least 21 confirmed dead

More than 20 people have died and dozens more are still missing after a passenger boat capsized off the holiday island of Phuket in Thailand.

The Phoenix – which had 105 people on board, mainly Chinese tourists – went down in stormy weather late on Thursday afternoon.

Search and rescue operations, suspended overnight, resumed on Friday morning.

However, there are conflicting reports of how many bodies have been pulled from the water.

News agency AFP, quoting Phuket provincial rescue centre, said 21 bodies had been found so far, while Reuters news agency reports the Royal Thai Navy putting the current death toll at 27.

Divers are continuing to search the sunken hull of the Phoenix.

A total of 48 passengers were rescued by a fishing trawler on Thursday, while another survivor was pulled from the water several miles from the boat, along with several bodies, according to AFP.

She was rushed to hospital, but her condition is unknown.

Another 39 people were saved when a second boat, carrying mostly European passengers, overturned at about the same time.

An investigation has been ordered into why the boats went out, despite severe weather warnings.

Footage and images captured in Phuket showed tourists huddling in blankets, while others looked distressed as medics tended to the injured.

Phuket governor Noraphat Plodthong said that a further 10 smaller boats were also stranded at sea on Thursday.

“There were high winds this evening,” he said, adding that a weather warning had been issued because of “strong winds and storms” on Wednesday.

In a separate incident, two Russian tourists on a jet ski near the island of Koh Racha had to be rescued after they were caught by the severe weather conditions.

Thailand is bracing for the arrival of the monsoon season, which will bring heavy rain and storms to the area.


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