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Phuket marine safety goes on show, efforts to recover last Phoenix disaster body continue

PHUKET: As part of the campaign to restore tourists’ confidence that they would not be risking their lives by taking a holiday in Phuket, the Phuket Governor today (July 15) led an inspection at Rassada Pier, the main departure point for large tour boats and ferries heading out to the popular islands in Phang Nga Bay, including Phi Phi Island.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 15 July 2018, 07:30PM

The inspection follows the Phoenix tour boat disaster on July 5, when the boat capsized and sank in storm conditions off Koh Hei (Coral Island) with 89 tourists, nearly all Chinese, on board.

A total of 47 people were killed in the tragedy, sparking a wave of tour-booking cancellations from Mainland Chinese tourists - a huge, critical source market for Thailand's tourism industry.

Joined by high-ranking officials including Vice Admiral Somnuk Preampramot, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, ensured that boats were not overloaded and met Thai marine safety regulations, and that passenger manifests were in order and that boats were carrying the appropriate life-saving equipment in case of an emergency.

The inspection today followed Governor Norraphat earlier today explaining that all 46 bodies recovered from the Phoenix tragedy had been identified.

Cremations had been held in Phuket for 39  of the bodies, with seven returned home, while families of 29 of the dead have been paid B1 million each by Thai Srinakarin Insurance Company.

The families are also to be paid state-funded compensation, he added.

"The relatives will receive a sum of B2 million and B100,000 each," he said.

"Those who have not been paid are only waiting for documents to complete the process. There are staff available 24 hours a day to work on this," Governor Norraphat said.

V/Adm Somnuk also explained earlier today that efforts to recover the last body from the tragedy, which remains pinned under the Phoenix now resting on the seabed about 1.5 nautical miles off Koh Hei, were still underway.

The international recovery team, including divers from China as well as from New Zealand, Scotland, Portugal and Australia, are continuing.

The recovery effort has been hampered by strong wind and waves over the past five days.

"The team has been working together well, but the conditions have proved very difficult. Last night the team kept going until 8pm," V/Adm Somnuk noted.

However, efforts to recover the body up to four to five more days, the press was told.

Regarding charges holding people accountable for the tragedy, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen today repeated that many people have already been charged with negligence causing death as well as physical and mental harm to others.

"The charges will be presented to Phuket Provincial Court tomorrow (July 16)," he said.

Gen Teeraphol noted that investigators were still compiling evidence to press more charges.

"There will be no exceptions," he said.

Gen Teeraphol today also explained that the registered owner of the Phoenix, Woralak Rerkchaikarn, 26, registered as living on Wichit Songkram Rd in Phuket Town, was questioned by investigators the day after the tragedy.

However, he also added that she had denied the charge of negligence causing death.

That statement flies in the face of Royal Thai Police Deputy Commander Pol Gen Sriwara Rangsipramanakul himself confirming during his visit to Phuket on Friday that an arrest warrant for Woralak, for Criminal Case 326/2561, had been issued only earlier that same day (see story here) – a statement which now casts doubt on when and where Ms Woralak was informed of the charge of negligence against her.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reported earlier today that around 7,300 rooms at 19 Phuket hotels booked by Chinese tourists have been cancelled, causing over B7mn in losses following the Phoenix tour boat tragedy.

Kongkiat Khuphongsakorn, president of a southern hotel association, said on Friday that the booking rate has fallen sharply by 80%-90% at Patong beach and by 50% across the province after the incident, said the report. (See story here.)

In addition to Chinese visitors, hotel bookings have also been cancelled by foreigners from other countries, he said.

Mr Kongkiat said the Phoenix disaster would affect Chinese tourists for the next three months but would only have a short-term impact on visitors from other countries.

"The damage is more than B7mn based on 7,300 rooms costing around 1,000 baht each. However, the accident doesn't only affect hotels but also other tourism sectors such as shuttle buses, tour boats and local shops. Chinese tourists often spend around 20,000 baht per person, per visit," he said.

Mr Kongkiat, however, said the government's efforts to overhaul safety measures across all forms of transport would play a pivotal role in regaining the confidence of foreign travellers.



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Christy Sweet | 18 July 2018 - 09:50:50

Thais dismal  attitude toward safety will never change as long as the culture is rooted in a belief than nothing matters, life is cheap because you just keep coming back. 
Time to eliminate the problem- a patriarchy worshiping dogma  designed to control and herd a population, oppressing independent thought.

Capt B | 16 July 2018 - 22:22:58

Look like Thai Ind. Standards Marine "Work Vests", the type that will not give one a clear airway when floating unconscious in the water. They certainly do not look like SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) Approved Life Jackets that will keep one floating upright if unconscious. Where are the lights & whistles that the Marine D, should check every year to ensure vessel owner has replaced b...

KurtTi | 16 July 2018 - 18:30:58

Re: I hope all bookings are cancelled and tourists never return here.   I think it would be better if all thais go and this island would be managed by western people .that would be the only hope for this island.There are already more clever people on this forum than in the whole phuket government.

Kurt | 16 July 2018 - 16:48:36

The governor did put on his marine safety face, coz that day there was on Phuket no volunteer cleaning project some where, also no Ambassadors or Consul Generals to welcome and give guarantee about safety on Phuket.

BenPendejo | 16 July 2018 - 16:01:25

And it also looks like all the bright orange "life vests" are the same toy flotation aids that are used for snorkling... the same toy life vests that all the drown people were wearing when they were found face down in the water. And why is the Governor doing a marine safety inspection? He doesn't know.... when it comes to marine safety.

BenPendejo | 16 July 2018 - 15:56:27

"The government's efforts to overhaul safety measures across all forms of transport" complete nonsense. These incompetent Thai officials are the same bunch of corrupt do-nothings that paved the way for all of the dangerous conditions throughout Thailand. They are not capable overhauling anything, and everything they are doing is lip service and BS.  I hope the Chinese are well o...

CaptainJack69 | 16 July 2018 - 11:56:38

"Chinese tourists often spend 20,000 baht per person" the real problem economically is that the people on the Phoenix, like so many other Chinese here, didn't pay anything once they were here. It's called 'zero baht tours'. Everything is paid for before they leave China. Once here they're rushed from shop to shop before being squeezed onto boats etc. All money stays i...

Shwe | 16 July 2018 - 07:17:13

"Mr Kongkiat said the Phoenix disaster would affect Chinese tourists for the next three months but would only have a short-term impact on visitors from other countries." He is hoping this dog & pony show will pull the wool over peoples eyes again, I hope all bookings are cancelled and tourist never return here, Phuket is a dangerous place.

Kurt | 16 July 2018 - 04:14:08

Red in BKK-Post that some thai authorities now said that the disaster vessels were sub standard. How do they know that so fast?
Vessels are still at sea bottom. Are there government documents proving 'sub standard'?
And,..which thai officials did certify these sub standards vessels?
About both disasters thai authorities have a lot of melting butter on their heads.

Discover Thainess | 15 July 2018 - 21:02:15

Sorry, too little too late. Everyone can see this is just “show” again for a few minutes then back to BAU as it is every time. Are the jet skis and parasails being removed as well? Not a chance, Kerr-Ching! Only a matter of time before another death from these activities as well. Phuket has had years to fix these problems and done nothing apart from blaming foreigners. Reap what u sow. 

Nasa12 | 15 July 2018 - 20:16:15

Take a trip to Rawai and look, no safety filling of gasoline on the beatch and Chines sitting like chiken in every boat and Life jacket are bullSh..

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