The order comes in response to the explosion of a tour speedboat off Phi Phi Island yesterday (Jan 14) that saw dozens of Chinese tourists injured, with three remaining in intensive care in hospitals in Phuket. (See stories here and here.)
At the meeting today, held at the Governor’s House at 8am, Governor Norraphat noted that privately operated piers and boat terminals were overlooked by a recent crackdown on marine safety at all government-run piers in Phuket, which oversee the ferries and tour boats that handle the bulk of the Phuket’s island-bound tourists.
“Phuket Vice Governor Prakob Wongmaneerung will check private piers for marine safety,” he said pointedly.
“Public piers keep details of all boats and passengers that depart from their piers, but this speedboat departed from a private pier. Right now, private piers are not in held to a complete management standard,” he explained.
“Phuket has to pay attention to the private piers and ensure they use the same safety standards for tourists’ safety as government piers,” he added.
“Every boat that departs from a pier must be checked with the date, time, boat name, number of passengers recorded – and the most important thing are the names of passengers. We have to know the destinations of each boat in order to make sure it does departs from its scheduled route,” he added.
Governor Norraphat pointed out the level of attention the disaster has gained.
“The Prime Minister and the Minister of Tourism and Sports are paying attention to this accident,” he said.
“This accident has effects (felt) around the world. Luckily no one died,” he added, noting that some 25,000 to 30,000 people a day engage in marine tourism in Phuket.
After the meeting, Gov Norraphat inspected the Sea Angel pier in Rassada, from which the King Poseidon 959 had departed just the day before, and then paid a visit in person to Chinese tourist Kwang Pei Hong, 26, who remains at Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town with serious burns to her face, both legs and arms.
Two other Chinese nationals remain in intensive care at Bangkok Hospital Phuket, with at least another five admitted to continue receiving treatment at the hospital. (See story here.)
The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) based in Beijing issued a circular through its the official Weibo account at 6:30pm yesterday, reporting that the agency has been informed of the accident and had instituted its emergency plans, reports Phuket Chinese-language newspaper Pujidao Xinwen. (See story here.)
CNTA Chief Li Jinzao urged the Chinese tourist office in Bangkok to immediately learn about the situation and to coordinate with the Chinese embassy in Thailand to urge hospitals to try their best to treat the injured tourists and for the embassy to contact and urge the Thai Tourist Police to identify the cause of the accident as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Chinese Consul General Zhou Haicheng, who is based in Songkhla but also responsible for Phuket, dispatched Ma Cuihong, the Vice Consul General and Head of the Phuket Consular Office, to visit the injured tourists and contact police to determine the cause of the accident, and to urge Tourist Police to provide assistance.