Thailand suspended efforts on Thursday to salvage a boat that capsized and sank off its resort island of Phuket, officials said, putting the death toll in its worst tourist-related disaster in years at 46.
The Phoenix had 101 on board, including 89 tourists, all but two of them from China, when it went down in rough seas last Thursday during an outing to a small island. Forty-two passengers and the crew of a dozen Thais were rescued. The salvage operation was suspended because the boat lay deep and currents were rough, Phuket police Commander Teerapol Tipcharoen told reporters. Divers would retrieve a final body from the shipwreck when weather conditions permit, said Rear Admiral Chareonpol Kumrasee, who helped lead the effort.
The monsoon season now under way can bring fierce squalls and high seas in southern Thailand, especially off its west coast, and questions have been raised about why the boat had set out to sea despite warnings of bad weather.
The captain of the Phoenix has been charged with negligence causing death, police said. He has denied the charges. Religious rites for the dead were held throughout the week after families arrived in Phuket from China to identify relatives and take charge of survivors. The accident has led to a drop off in hotel bookings. (UNI)