Yesterday afternoon (Thursday) a boat capsized off the coast of Phuket. At the time of writing there are 33 confirmed fatalities, but that figure is likely to rise* with a number of passengers still reported missing. So far, 49 people have been rescued. The tourist boat had been travelling back to Phuket from a one-day dive trip to one of the islands off the Phuket coast when a storm rolled in and high waves swept over the vessel. According to media reports from Phuket, all the passengers were Chinese and officials from China are providing consular assistance to those affected by the tragedy.
Before the accident, Phuket officials had issued severe weather warnings and some tourist boats remained anchored at the island of Ko Racha to wait out the storm. Police in Thailand have already announced the captain of the capsized boat faces the prospect of criminal charges for ignoring a weather forecast which advised boat operators in southern Thailand to stay ashore. Sadly, over the years there have been a number of boat accidents in Thai waters and this latest tragedy will again raise questions about maritime safety standards in Thailand. In a separate incident yesterday, another boat also overturned near Phuket. Thankfully, all 42 on board that boat were rescued.
*The final death toll rose to 47.