Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Phuket tour boats overturn in storm, rescue mission launched

Thai media showed photos of people rescued from one of the boats in large rubber life rafts at sea, with fishing boats and churning water in the background.

A yacht called the Senerita carrying 39 people also capsized in the high seas, the officials added.

A boat carrying dozens of Chinese tourists overturned Thursday in rough seas off southern Thailand and 49 passengers were unaccounted for, an official said.

It was not immediately clear which boat they belonged to.

A second boat also overturned at another location off Phuket on Thursday afternoon.

Local police commander Teerapol Tipcharoen said that at least seven people were unaccounted for, but the rescue operation is ongoing.

Rescued Chinese were taken aboard a Thai fishing boat to their original destination of Chalong on the southern end of Phuket.

Ambulances could be seen waiting for various people to be rescued.

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Officials had earlier issued a warning of severe weather until next Tuesday, including heavy rain and strong winds.

"They were all wearing life jackets."

Most of the tourists were understood to be Chinese, with two believed to be westerners, according to the boat's captain.

"All agencies are co-operating in their search at this time", Mr Norraphat said.

The Pheonix boat was pummelled by huge waves as high winds whipped up the sea off the popular island of Phuket.

"We have given warnings ... but the winds are strong."

Phuket is a magnet for overseas visitors including Western sun-seekers and huge numbers of Chinese tourists who make up the bulk of the 35 million people expected to visit the kingdom this year.

The Royal Thai Navy has deployed rescue vessels from the Third Area Command at Cape Panwa, on Phuket's east coast, the report added.

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