Phuket dive boat accident death toll rises to 21 with 37 passengers still missing

Bodies being brought to Phuket after a rescue effort by Thai rescue teams

Sad news from Phuket, Thailand today where rescue teams searching for survivors of the Phuket dive boat accident confirm the death toll has now risen to 21 people, with 37 passengers still missing and presumed dead.

The boat, called Phoenix and  carrying 105 passengers, left Phuket on July 5th for a day of diving with 93 tourists on board, and 12 crew and guides. The boat sank several hours later near Koh Heh after the operator apparently ignored warnings about rough seas, and headed out into waters with waves as high as five meters.

Forty eight people were rescued soon after the accident by Thai rescue services — 36 tourists and all 12 crew and guides. The rest are still missing. Most are thought to be tourists from China.

Rescue teams in helicopters and boats are still searching for the missing tourists off the coast of Phuket but, as time passes, the prognosis is not good. Particularly as rescue officials believe many were likely trapped in the boat as it capsized.

In an AFP report today Rear Admiral Charoenphon Khumrase was quoted as saying divers had “seen over 10 bodies” floating inside the vessel”.

Sadly, the sinking of the Phoenix was not the only accident off Phuket yesterday.

Another boat, the Serenita, also sank on the same day. That boat was carrying 42 passengers, but rescue teams were able to rescue everyone on board and to safely transport them back to Phuket.