With the body count numbers still in flux, as the recovery mission continues, the Phuket PR Office says the official death toll is 33 tourists that have died with dozens still missing.
Strong winds and high waves sunk the dive yacht Phoenix, packed with mainly Chinese visitors, late on Thursday afternoon when a weather front came in from the Andaman Sea.
Phuket’s Governor Norapat Plodthong said rescuers had retrieved at least 32 bodies from the waters between Koh Hei and Koh Maiton while 23 others are still missing. 49 people were rescued.
Many victims of the accident drowned despite wearing life jackets. Many were found floating face-down – a situation life-jackets are meant to prevent.
The main focus is still on the sunken Phoenix yacht wreck. Whilst the rescue operations were suspended last night they resumed again this morning at 5am.
The Phoenix was carrying 93 passengers and 12 crew members, was operating near Koh Hei as part of a snorkelling and swimming trip, when the incident happened.
Vessels from the Royal Thai Navy, coastal patrol units and private-owned boats were deployed to help comb the area for missing passengers.
Scores of divers were assigned to check the sunken Phoenix yesterday in a mission that was considered a body recovery mission, not a rescue mission.
Searching will continue today, focussed on the Phoenix, as well as combing the sea at a radius of 10 kilometres around the accident. – The Nation