Seven boats have sunk in the last 5 days, with eight people still missing following incidents in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Six tour boats and a fishing boat sank in rough weather, with two passengers, a skipper, and five crew members on the missing list.
A British tourist, 57 year old Millie Young, was one of 18 passengers on the Sawan Tour Reggae Queen dive boat, which was headed for Khao Lak, in Phang Nga, when it sank in strong winds in the Surin Islands National Park at around 11pm on Friday, December 23.
Sixteen people were rescued but Ms Young and Ms Samniang Thaichana, the boat’s cook, are still missing. The Royal Thai Navy has joined in the search for both women.
On Sunday, December 24, a speedboat carrying 73 tourists from Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta, in Krabi province, sank in rough conditions near Bubu Island, in Satun province.
According to a Thai PBS World report, strong waves smashed the hull of the Bandaya 19, which then began taking on water quickly. Orders were given to abandon the boat, with all passengers and crew rescued by the Thai Navy.
The disasters continued that day, with the fishing boat Sirawit Namchoke succumbing to the rough seas off Koh Chang, in the eastern province of Trat. The skipper and 5 crew members are missing, with the search for them having to be suspended due to the adverse conditions.
Red flags have been placed at the beaches in Ao Nang, Krabi province, to warn tourists not to enter the water. Boat operators have been told to exercise extreme caution and to ensure there are enough lifejackets on board during trips to nearby islands.
Meanwhile, two cruise ships, with over 5,000 passengers, have abandoned attempts to take them to Koh Samui due to the rough seas. Ferry services to and from the island are still running, however, but with reduced weight.
In Pattaya, small boats have been banned from going to sea and speed boat trips to Koh Lan have been temporarily suspended.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World