Phuket marine chief removed for ‘dereliction of duty’

The Phoenix went down in heavy seas with the loss of 47 tourist's lives

The Marine Department has ordered an immediate transfer of the chief officer of Phuket Marine Office and the setting up of a panel to consider disciplinary action against him for alleged dereliction of duty that led to the sinking of Phoenix drive boat off Phuket on July 5, resulting in the deaths of 47 Chinese tourists.

An informed Marine Department source said that the Phuket Marine Office director was alleged to have allowed Phoenix dive boat to venture out to sea for a tour of Koy Heh and Koh Mai Thon despite earlier warning of rough seas and for all vessels to anchor at port.

Besides, the actual number of passengers on board did not match the passenger’s manifest.

The source said the director was also alleged to have issued a permit to Phoenix vessel despite its questionable seaworthiness.

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Meanwhile, police on Saturday questioned Ms Woraluck Ruekchaikarn, the managing director of TC Blue Dream Company which operated Phoenix, after she turned herself in to acknowledge the charge of recklessness, causing deaths and injuries to the other people.

Pol Maj-Gen Surachet Hakparn, deputy commissioner of Tourist Police Bureau, said Saturday that TC Blue Dream has not yet taken any action to compensate families of the dead victims and the injured from the boat accident.

Regarding Ms Woraluck, the police officer said police were investigating whether she actually owned Phoenix or whether she was just a nominee of her Chinese boss. – Thai PBS

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