Dozens missing after Thailand tourist boat capsizes

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The Phoenix dive boat ran into trouble yesterday (July 5), when it was hammered by five-metre high waves that had been whipped up by a storm.

Some cried while others appeared dazed as they walked around still wearing their life vests.

But an official at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, which is based in Bangkok, said only around 20 people were still in the sea.

A Chinese man has died and 56 other people are missing after a tourist boat capsized in turbulent waters off the coast of Thailand's popular Phuket tourist island.

Police Lt. Colonel Somsak Sophakarn, the deputy chief of Phuket's Chalong Provincial Police Station, said one of the boats, the Phoenix PC Diving boat, had some 90 passengers on board, most of whom were Chinese tourists. "We have sent boats to help", said Rear Admiral Somnuk Prempramote, commander of the Royal Thai Navy Region 3.

Footage shared on Facebook showed officials at a pier gathering information as the rescue operation unfolded in darkness behind them.

The boat was returning to Phuket from Koh Racha at around 4pm (9am in Britain) when a storm hit, according to the captain, Somjing Boontham.

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"Eleven are injured, of these two are in serious condition", the governor added.

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

He said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds.

But as details dripped through overnight, Governor Norraphat said two passengers were still unaccounted for from another stricken ship.

Thailand has a sketchy health and safety record and accidents are common on its roads and busy waterways - especially during the monsoon season which is now biting.

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

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