Rescuers attempt to salvage body trapped underwater in Phuket boat accident, 1 still missing

Xinhua Published: 2018-07-11 17:44:50
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Thai and Chinese rescuers have found one more missing body and divers on Wednesday will attempt to salvage the body trapped underwater by the sunken tourist boat off the coast of Thai island of Phuket.

Rescuers search for the missing people at sea in Thailand on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. [Photo: IC]

Rescuers search for the missing people at sea in Thailand on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. [Photo: IC]

As of Wednesday noon, 46 were confirmed dead in the boat capsizal accident, including the body trapped underwater. 45 bodies have been retrieved, among which five have been cremated and two transported back to China on the will of their families, Phuket Provincial Governor Norraphat Plodthong told a press conference at the command center for the search and rescue mission.

One person is still missing, according to the governor.

Two tourist boats, Phoenix and Serenata, were overturned in rough seas on July 5. All the passengers on board Serenata had been rescued and all the victims and the missing were from the Phoenix.

A senior officer of the Royal Thai Navy's Third Area Command said the navy will continue the attempt to salvage the body trapped under the sunken Phoenix on Wednesday and continue searching for the last missing passenger, guided by information of the current and wind.

The Royal Thai Army has also sent patrol units to search for the last missing passenger along the coast of the sea area where Phoenix sunk. Fishermen living in Phuket and neighboring provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi were also mobilized to join in the search on the coast line.

Phuripat Theerakulpisut, director of Marine Office Region 3 with Thai Transportation Ministry's Marine Department, said that if the last missing passenger could be found, then the only job for divers would be salvaging the body trapped under the Phoenix wreckage; if the last missing passenger could not be found, rescue teams will consider removing the Phoenix wreckage for searching.

According to Phuripat, since the Phoenix wreckage is important evidence for investigation on the accident, if removing the wreckage is necessary, rescue teams will do it very carefully.

To remove the wreckage out of water, the company owning Phoenix has been given 10 days to prepare for all equipment needed including a crane with a capacity of 400 tonnes. After all equipment is ready, it will take about another 15 days to salvage the wreckage since it is 45 meters below the surface, according to the marine official.

Phuket police chief Major General Theerapol Thipcharoen said the police will conduct thorough examination on the Phoenix wreckage on land.

"We will bring anyone responsible for the accident into justice, no matter private sectors or government officials," Theerapol said.

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