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Multiple deaths as tourist boat sinks off Phuket
At least 33 people are known to have died after a tourist boat carrying mostly Chinese passengers capsized off the Thai holiday island of Phuket on Thursday evening.
The Phoenix was reportedly carrying 93 passengers, 11 crew members and an individual tour guide when it got caught in bad weather off the southern coast of Phuket.
Conditions were said to have created waves up to 5 metres high, causing the Phoenix to overturn and sink.
A total of 48 passengers were rescued by a fishing trawler on Thursday, while another female survivor was pulled from the water several miles from the boat, along with several bodies, according to AFP news agency.
Phuket Provincial Governor Noraphat Plodthong told reporters that the rescue operation would recommence tomorrow because of strong winds and rough seas.
Divers have already discovered several bodies while searching inside the hull of the submerged vessel, according to the Thai Navy. Helicopters also joined the search for survivors.
The Phoenix overturned in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Koh He, which is an islet known for its coral formations and has become popular among tourists visiting Phuket.
Lu Kang, a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry said that his country was sending a ‘taskforce’ to Thailand to help the authorities deal with the incident.
He advised “we hope that the Thai side can continue their best efforts and ... do their best to treat the injured, comfort relatives and deal with other follow-up measures.”
The Phoenix was among several boats that appeared to have ignored a warning in place since Wednesday not to take tourists on daytrips to the islands off Phuket because of "strong winds and storms”.
An investigation has been ordered into why a number of boats went out despite the severe weather warnings.
In a separate incident, 39 people were saved when another vessel, carrying mostly European passengers, overturned at about the same time.
Image used for illustrative purposes only.
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