By Stacey Leasca
July 09, 2018
Thai rescue boats search for missing people in Phuket Island waters after two boats carrying 127 Chinese tourists capsized in Phuket, Thailand, 8 July 2018.
Credit: Imaginechina via AP Images

A tour boat capsized off the resort island of Phuket in Thailand last week after encountering a heavy storm, according to The Guardian. At least 41 people onboard were killed, and at least 15 others are still missing.

In a press conference over the weekend, Phuket’s governor, Norraphat Plodthong, told reporters that the boat capsized after it was hit by 16-foot waves. At the time of the storm the boat, named the Phoenix, was carrying 105 people, including 93 tourists. Most of the tourists were Chinese, Plodthong said.

“It’s very difficult to see,” Philip Entremont, a rescue diver at the scene, told reporters. “It’s traumatic, it’s tragic but the best thing to do, our job as divers, is to bring back the bodies to their families.”

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha issued a statement expressing his “sympathies and deepest condolences” to the families of the victims. He added that the local government will “exert all efforts to find those still missing and provide support to all survivors of this tragic event.”

Pongpanu Svetarundra, the permanent secretary for tourism, told the Bangkok Post that the Tourist Police Bureau and the Department of Tourism will jointly investigate the tour firm to see if it violated any rules leading to the accident. The Associated Press reported the captain of the Phoenix has already been charged with “careless conduct leading to death.” He could face more than three years in jail.

According to the Bangkok Post, the Thai government will offer compensation to affected tourists in case of “deaths, losses of organs, eyesight or and disability.” The compensation payments, Svetarundra explained, will amount to one million baht ($30,000) each and medical payments of up to 500,000 baht ($15,000). Panas Theerawanitkul, an executive of Bangkok Insurance, which represents the Phoenix, will also offer victims additional compensation. According to Theerawanitkul, staff from the insurance company would be dispatched to the hospitals treating victims to help expedite compensation.

In a small ray of hope, the Associated Press reported Monday that five people who were previously thought to have died in the accident were actually alive. It is unclear if the five people escaped the boat, or never got on it in the first place.