Dozens missing after boats capsize in Thailand

Dozens missing after boats capsize in Thailand

Recovery divers have pulled 42 bodies from the sea off the resort island of Phuket, but authorities have said 14 other passengers remain unaccounted for.

Thai emergency personnel transfer a passenger (C) from the sunken tourist boat at the Chalong pier in Phuket on July 6, 2018.

"We have sent boats to help", Rear Admiral Somnuk Prempramote, commander of the Royal Thai Navy Region 3.

Family members of passengers onboard a capsized tourist boat carry out registration upon their arrival at the Vachira Phuket Hospital on July 7 in Phuket, Thailand.

"The skies were clear when we went out, we had no idea the weather could change so fast", said Wu Jun, 28, who was at his wife Long Hai Ning's side at the hospital.

The couple was on their honeymoon and managed to escape the sinking boat. Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds.

The Phoenix overturned in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Ko He, which is a popular one-day trip from Phuket.

Helicopters yesterday afternoon scanned the water in what appeared to be an increasingly forlorn hunt for survivors.

A total of 48 passengers were rescued by a fishing trawler on Thursday, while another survivor was pulled from the water several miles from the boat, along with several bodies, according to AFP.

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An investigation has been ordered into why the boats went out, despite severe weather warnings. It is thought to be lying 40 meters below the surface off the coast of Koh He, a small island known for coral formations and day trips from Phuket.

Footage shared on Facebook showed officials at a pier gathering information as the rescue operation unfolded in darkness behind them.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for all-out search and rescue efforts, telling the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese diplomats in Thailand to take greater measures, and also urging Thai authorities to spare no efforts.

The accident comes as Thailand is already embroiled in an effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach who are trapped inside a flooded cave.

Divers who joined search and rescue efforts described disturbing scenes from inside the boat wreck of children's bodies entangled in the arms of their mothers, according to the AP.

Thailand has poor road and boat safety records.

Phuket draws hordes of overseas visitors including Western sun-seekers and huge numbers of Chinese tourists who make up almost a third of the 35 million people expected to visit Thailand this year.

Chinese tourists make up the biggest number of foreign visitors to Thailand, their numbers surging in recent years, drawn by the growing popularity of the southeast Asian nation's islands.

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