Phuket Public Relations Department Chief Bussaya Chaipeum issued a statement this morning (Oct 2) stating that Niphat ‘Joch’ Kludnak, 37, an employee of Spitz Tech Co Ltd died at 12;30pm on Saturday (Sept 29) at the site where the sunken Phoenix lies on the seabed.
Mr Niphat had been involved in the salvage mission since it began in August.
According to the statement issued by Ms Bussaya, Mr Niphat was on the rear of a vessel being used in the salvage operation when he fainted and fell into the sea.
Mr Niphat was recovered unconscious from the water and was quickly taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town where he was later pronounced dead.
The body of Mr Niphat has since taken to his home province if Chumphon where funeral rites are underway at Wat Chonlathi Phuesaram.
The statement concluded by saying that the salvage operation will resume on Thursday (Oct 4) or Friday (Oct 5) depending on weather conditions.
It is planned that the boat will be dragged to an area where the water depth will be around 25 metres where the boat will then be raised to the surface. Once on the surface the boat will then be dragged to the Tha Chin canal.
On Sept 24, the Chief of the Phuket Marine Office confirmed that the plan to raise the sunken tour boat Phoenix was to be fully revised after one of the tethers broke while the salvage operators were trying to move the boat underwater – but not actually raise it.
The news to temporarily scrap the plan to raise the Phoenix was revealed by Wiwat Chitchertwong, who is currently the Acting Director of the Phuket Marine Office. (See story here.)
On Aug 5, the Director-General of the Marine Department, Jirut Wisanjit, announced that the major operation to raise the sunken tour boat Phoenix off the seabed would be carried out that week.
Speaking at the Phuket Deep Sea Port , Mr Jirut said that plans to raise the Phoenix, which lied at a depth of 45m some 1.5 nautical miles off Koh Hei (Coral Island), were underway after the owner failed to organise its own efforts. (See story here.)
After weeks of preparations, a team of salvage operators on Aug 14 said they hoped to complete the recovery of the Phoenix tour boat, which sank in a storm squall of Koh Hei (Coral Island) on July 5. (See story here.)
However, on Aug 16, Mr Wiwat told The Phuket News that strong winds and large waves have continued to delay the refloating of the sunken tour boat Phoenix.
“All the equipment and tethers have been attached, but some of them still need to be positioned in the place so the boat can be safely raised to the surface,” he said. (See story here.)
Then on Aug 30, Mr Wiwat said that preparations were continuing to raise the Phoenix, but that he did not expect any effort to refloat the boat to be carried out for another week. (See story here.)
On Sept 21, it was confirmed by Ms Bussaya that preparations to raise the Phoenix were now in the final stages. (See story here.)