The death toll from the sinking of a tourist boat off Thailand’s Phuket island has risen to 33 as rescuers deployed helicopters to search for 23 people still missing.
The Phoenix capsized and sank in rough seas when it was toppled by 5m high waves on Thursday with 105 passengers on board, including 93 Chinese tourists and 12 Thai crew and tourist guides.
The Royal Thai Navy said “quite a few bodies” had been found inside the sunken vessel, while others were found floating in the water.
Rear Admiral Chareonpol Kumrasee told Reuters on Friday that the chances of survival for the missing were low.
The bodies of nine Chinese tourists were being brought to Phuket, where authorities had already confirmed the death of another Chinese man.
The Chinese embassy in Bangkok said in a statement that it had requested the Thai government put every effort possible into the rescue and that it had sent a team to Phuket to help.
The police are investigating the incident, the Phuket Marine Police said, adding the boat was properly registered and was not overloaded at the time of the accident.
It went down about 7km from the shore and sank to a depth of about 38-40 metres, the Royal Thai Marine Corps said in a statement.