On July 5, rough seas capsized two ships carrying Chinese tourists off the coast of Ko He, a popular daytrip destination from Thailand's Phuket island. Over 130 were onboard the ships, Xinhua reports, including 127 of Chinese nationality. 42 tourists have perished, while 14 are still unaccounted for as of yesterday afternoon, according to AFP. Of the dead, at least 13 are children.
After the boats overturned on Thursday due to adverse weather conditions, 48 passengers and Thai crew members were rescued. Another Chinese survivor was found the next day.
The search for the missing continues, led by members of the Thai navy, marine police and fishermen, as well as 17 Chinese divers who helped to explore the wreckage.
According to AFP, there was a weather warning for the islands around Phuket on the day that the ships sank. On Saturday, local police accused the captain of one ship of negligence causing death, although he reportedly denied the claim. The captain of the other boat has been charged with negligence leading to physical and mental injury.
A Chinese news correspondent, Lin Yingying, was a passenger on a ship that just barely made it to land near the site of the accident last Thursday. All thirty or so onboard survived after enduring two-and-a-half hours of turbulent waves and fierce winds.
“It was the most agonizing two-and-a-half hours,” Lin wrote for the Shanghai Morning Post. “You didn’t know if you were going to survive or die.”
50 family members of those who were not as lucky are currently in Phuket to identify bodies or take care of rescued relatives.
One, whose sister perished in the accident, told AFP she was considering legal action: “There should definitely be compensation… But I don’t want to talk about that right now. All I want is to identify and claim [my sister’s] body and return home.”
[Cover image via Sina News]