Asia Dive News : Seven missing after Similan dive boat sinks in storm
Hope was fading for the rescue of seven persons missing in the Andaman Sea Monday nearly one day after a tourist boat ferrying about 30 Thai and foreigners from the Similan Islands to Phuket capsized and sank during a heavy storm during the night.
Thai marine police rescue crews using police boats and a Navy helicopter continue to search for six foreigners and one Thai who are still missing, but search and rescue operations are difficult at night.
Boat operator Chatri Leechauy told police that strong winds and heavy rains forced his boat capsized. Among those survivors who boarded the lifeboat were 15 foreigners and eight Thais, all of whom were picked up by a rescuing fishing boat before noon Monday.
The sinking occurred after ‘Choke Somboon 19’ left the Similan Islands at about 9pm Sunday night, laden with holidaying tourists returning from snorkeling off the Similans . The boat and its passengers were scheduled to return and arrive at Patong Beach on Phuket Island at 5am Monday.
Mr. Chatri said his boat had been in use for only six months. The sinking occurred just 12 nautical miles from Phuket's Patong Beach.
As the boat was enroute, it capsized due to heavy rain, wind and high seas, the marine police said.
Twenty-three passengers have been rescued, but seven -- two Swiss nationals, two Australians, one Japanese, one German and one Thai -- are still missing, police said.
Police said the search is difficult because the rescue response teams do not know the exact location where the boat overturned and sank, they added, because the boat may have been blown off course.