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Cave rescue and Phuket tour boat disaster ‘equally important’, says PM

Cave rescue and Phuket tour boat disaster ‘equally important’, says PM

PHUKET: Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha today rated the ongoing Tham Luang cave rescue operation and the sinking of the Phoenix Phuket tour boat disaster as “equally important”. But added, “The cave rescue is the main issue here today.”

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By Eakkapop Thongtub

Monday 9 July 2018, 05:44PM


PM Prayut gave his appreciation of the two key issues that have thrown Thailand into the international media spotlight during his visit to Phuket today (July 9) over the rescue-recovery operations in the aftermath of the Phoenix sinking off Koh Hei (Coral Island) last Thursday (July 5).

With already 41 people confirmed dead, the Phoenix disaster is one of the worst maritime disasters in Thailand’s modern history.

In his visit to the “Disaster Command Centre” set up at Chalong Pier today, PM Prayut was joined by Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda and Transport Minister Gen Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

Present to receive the Prime Minister were Tourism & Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat and Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong, among a host of other senior local officials.

After hearing a briefing on the current state of the rescue-recovery operation, which included a now confused state of how many people – if any – search teams should be looking for (see story here), PM Prayut said that he had intended to come to Phuket for several days but was unable to due to “equally important” concerns.

“Many issues are all equally important. We must give equal importance to all missions, from the major incident here (in Phuket) to the rescue of children from Tham Luang in Chiang Rai to the administration of land. We are developing in many ways,’ he said.

“With this trip, I am pleased to have the opportunity meet Mr Lyu Jian, the Ambassador of China to Thailand, as well as Chinese officials and military personnel.

“Regarding the message from the Chinese president, there are no special pressures or mandates, just a request for the Thai authorities to help care for the injured and to fully recover from the incident,” he said.

“The work has been announced through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and related to the Chinese Ambassador to understand. Thailand and China have been brothers for hundreds of years. Whether it is Chinese or Thai people, we are the same. The help provided is already international standard, and at the same time we have to take care of all the people who live in or travel to Thailand,” PM Prayut said.

The Prime Minister noted the rapid growth of tourism in the country in recent years.

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“Tourism is growing very fast, so we have to change and introduce more technology. In the past three to four years, we have tried to increase the personnel and equipment (to respond to such incidents), but it is not enough, especially in the case of big events.

“It will be discussed further how to improve on this. International cooperation, especially with China, is welcome on these issues and we can exchange exchange experiences.

“This (such disasters) happened not only in Thailand. It can happen in every country,” he said.

PM Prayut said that lawful operation by business operators was the most important factor in avoiding future calamities.

“Boat owners and tour operators must be registered with government offices to conduct business. The law must be adhered to in order to maintain correct operation (of tours) in all respects.

“And as tourism grows and more people visit here, the greater the risk. With no investment or rehearsal or examination (of emergency procedures) further loss will happen. These must be reviewed,” he said.

The Prime Minister did not blame any particular office for the disaster.

“I have come here today to support all workers. I did not come to blame anyone. They all have their areas of responsibility, Whether good or bad (at their jobs), they are all performing their duties and I ask people to do their best. We are Thai people together, and the Chinese are our brothers.

“In addition, Chinese entrepreneurs are among the top in investment (for Thailand). Like in other countries, we will preserve our relationship. We ask them to not do anything that is not worth doing, or do anything illegal.

“Everyone has to share responsibility… and we cannot turn back time, but this must not happen anymore. That's the point,” he said.

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vegasbaby | 11 July 2018 - 20:39:28

Phuket cannot even provide basic lifeguard services on its beaches for tourists and they manage other dangerous tourism situations with a low level of competence.  With Thai low value of life culture, this accident and other deadly disasters happening daily are shrugged with 'Buddha's Will' as the excuse. It's up to the media to blow the horn loudly on the safety of tourists in Phu...

Pauly44 | 10 July 2018 - 10:02:10

Well I guess 50+ dead Chinese is equal to the drama of Thai boys stuck in a cave and he had to show up as Chinese are "among top investors" in Thailand, sorry but none of this washes with me, I know Thailand too well and why this incident isn't front page across the world news is perplexing as it's far worse than the cave circus...

BenPendejo | 09 July 2018 - 18:09:20

Hmmm...the PM sounds a bit like the Governor, just a bunch of empty blather. And of course the cave rescue is more important. Who in Thailand really cares about a Chinese tragedy when we have Thai heroes saving living children. Those 11 families wondering about where their deceased children are will just have to wait their turn. And also Mr. PM, the attention being given IS NOT int'l standard.

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