A Royal Thai Navy spokesman has confirmed the ill-fated HTMS Sukhothai set sail in rough conditions without its chief engineer on board. Five crew members remain unaccounted for as the search mission continues.
Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Pichai Lorchusakul has confirmed the Navy vessel’s chief engineer, who has not been named, had a prior engagement that prevented him joining the crew when the Sukhothai set sail for Chumphon, in southern Thailand, on December 18. According to Pichai, when the chief engineer cannot be on board, he is replaced by a deputy.
Pichai went on to say that the captain of the vessel (who has also not been named) is the person who will face questions about the incident as part of an investigation being conducted by the Royal Thai Navy.
According to a Thai PBS World report, the bodies of 24 crew members have now been recovered. The ship was carrying 105 people when it set sail, 76 of whom were rescued in the immediate aftermath of the sinking.
A team of Navy SEALs has now joined the search operation taking place on the surface and underwater around the islands of Chumphon. Searchers are also working on shore, checking the coastline from the district of Bang Saphan in Prachuap Khiri Khan down as far as Ban Don Bay in Surat Thani.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World