Israeli girl missing after Thai ferry fire, 117 tourists saved

Israeli girl missing after Thai ferry fire, 117 tourists saved

BANGKOK - Thai divers on Thursday resumed the search for a 12-year-old Israeli girl missing after a blaze destroyed a ferry packed with tourists in southern Thailand, police said.

More than 100 foreign tourists were plucked from the sea in a dramatic rescue on Wednesday afternoon after a sudden blaze consumed a ferry travelling between Krabi and Phuket island in the Andaman sea.

Initially Krabi police said everyone on board was safe and accounted for, but the Israeli girl was later listed as missing.

"We haven't found her yet... the search was called off yesterday evening during strong currents and darkness but it resumed today," Lieutenant General Decha Butnampetch, southern region police commander told AFP.

Local media reports said the girl was travelling with her family, who were waiting in Krabi for news.

Among the passengers pulled from the sea were nationals from Britain, Switzerland, the United States and China.

Accidents involving boats, buses and other forms of public transport are common in Thailand, where safety standards are generally poor.

Overcrowded tourist ferries and other boats are notorious for capsizing, catching fire or hitting rocks, especially during peak tourist season when vessels are pushed to their limit to cash in on huge visitor numbers.

In November 2013 three tourists were among six dead when an overcrowded ferry suddenly sank off the coast of the popular resort of Pattaya.

Thailand is desperate to burnish its reputation as a tourist haven after 11 months which have seen a military coup, martial law, and scandals including the brutal murder of two British backpackers last year.

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