Thailand raises shipwreck that killed 47 Chinese tourists in Phuket

Thailand raises shipwreck that killed 47 Chinese tourists in Phuket
PHOTO: Reuters

BANGKOK - Thailand on Saturday raised the shipwreck that killed 47 Chinese tourists in July, part of an ongoing investigation into the cause of the boat capsizing, officials said.

"The Phoenix is an important piece of evidence to determine the cause of the accident," Tourist Police Bureau Deputy Chief, Major General Surachate Hakparn, told reporters.

"When the case is final, it will be able to restore Chinese tourist confidence," he said separately in a statement.

The Phoenix went down in high seas in July off Thailand's west-coast island of Phuket with 101 people on board, made up of 12 crew members and 89 tourists, all but two of them from China. The ship had been taking the passengers on an outing to a small island for snorkeling.

An earlier salvage effort was suspended due to weather conditions.

49 missing after boat capsizes off Phuket island

  • Open gallery

    The Harbour Department announced at 1.26pm on Friday that 40 passengers of the ill-fated Phoenix dive boat were confirmed killed in the sinking on Thursday.

  • Open gallery

    Dozens are missing after a boat carrying 97 people, including Chinese tourists and Thai crew, capsized in rough seas off Thailand's tourist island of Phuket, the Thai navy said on Thursday.

  • Open gallery

    Dozens are missing after a boat carrying 97 people, including Chinese tourists and Thai crew, capsized in rough seas off Thailand's tourist island of Phuket, the Thai navy said on Thursday.

  • Open gallery

    Thailand is in the middle of its monsoon season which brings with it adverse weather conditions.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    "Right now we are still looking for 49 people. We have helped 48 people from the capsized boat. We have sent boats to help," Rear Admiral Somnuk Prempramote, commander of the Royal Thai Navy Region 3.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    "They were all wearing life jackets," he added.

  • Open gallery

    Another two boats, including a yacht carrying 39 people, also capsized but its passengers have been brought to safety.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

The capsizing and sinking of the Phoenix was Thailand's worst tourist-related disaster in years and led to a sharp drop in Chinese arrivals in the following months.

Tourists from China make up the biggest portion of Thailand's visitors, and last year accounted for nearly one-third of a record 35.38 million arrivals.

Tourism accounts for about 12 per cent of Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, making it a key driver of its growth.

The Thai government has scrambled to restore tourism with schemes such as granting waivers on visa fees.

"We want to get to the truth (about the Phoenix)," Surachate said. The effort shows a commitment to the relatives of the dead and will help restore tourism confidence in Thailand, he said

Purchase this article for republication.
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.