PHUKET: Police Region 8 Commander Panya Mamen yesterday morning led a team of officers on a safety inspection of passenger vessels at Rassada Pier, a major jump-off point for tourists boarding ferries and tour boats to islands in Phang Nga Bay and along the Andaman coast.
The safety blitz followed a heavily overloaded ferry from Pattaya capsizing off Koh Lan, in the Gulf of Thailand, two days ago, leaving six tourists dead and at least 26 injured (story here
Pol Col Suwan Cheawnavinthavat yesterday told The Nation
that a Russian man, a Russian woman and a Chinese man were among the six dead. Two Thai women and a Thai man were also recovered dead.
The rest of the passengers were rescued, including a 12-year-old Russian boy, who is in intensive care at hospital. None of the others who were injured were hospitalized, Col Suwan reported.
Shortly after the boat departed Koh Lan, an engine problem sent the passengers on the first deck rushing to the second floor, causing the ferry to tip onto its side and eventually sink.
“Witnesses said that there were neither enough tubes nor life vests on the ferry. Some of those who could not swim had to cling onto coolers or ice containers until rescuers came,” Col Suwan said by phone.
At Rassada Pier yesterday morning, Lt Gen Panya announced, “Tourist safety is our first priority. A lot of tourists who come to Phuket want to go to other islands, such as Phi Phi and so many others."
“Authorities must keep an eye on tour operators to make sure they follow all safety regulations,” he stated.
“They especially must not overload their vessels with passengers. Also, life-saving equipment must be provided to all tourists on board,” Gen Panya added.
Officials, including Marine Police, Marine Officers and members of the Royal Thai Navy, assisted in inspecting vessels at the port.
“I am confident that all officials are ready to carry out rescue missions in response to any accidents that may occur at sea,” Gen Panya assured.
“I have ordered officials in both Phuket and on Samui to be strict on marine safety. We do not want any accidents to happen,” he added.
“Please take the Pattaya case as a lesson to be learned from. We should be able to prevent such tragedies from happening,” Gen Panya said.To hear the Pattaya One news’ initial report of the sinking of the Koh Lan ferry, click here.