A speedboat with more than 30 people on board capsized yesterday afternoon in the waters off Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. At least three people have died and one person is still missing. Navy divers and rescue workers continued their search today.
The speedboat was returning to Ko Samui from a day trip to the Ang Thong National Marine Park. Local reports suggest there were strong winds and big waves in the vicinity close to the Ko Samui shoreline when the accident occurred at approximately 5pm local time yesterday. The same reports also quote the Thai captain of the boat saying that he asked all passengers to put on life-jackets at the start of the journey, but he said some people took them off during the trip. Another speedboat in the area came to assist until the official rescue boat arrived on the scene.
In the past, some boat operators in Thailand have been accused of putting profit before safety by overcrowding boats. However, initial reports say the Ko Samui speedboat was operating within its legal passenger limits with local officials attributing the accident to poor sea conditions.
High waves and strong winds in parts of southern Thailand today caused the temporary cessation of a number of longtail and speedboat services. But in another incident this afternoon in the Andaman Sea, a group of tourists were forced into the sea when the longtail boat they were travelling on began taking in water. Four out of the fourteen passengers were treated for slight injuries. The longtail boat was travelling on the popular route between Ao Nang and Railay Beach in Krabi.