Dozens missing in boat capsize off Thailand's Phuket

At least seven missing after tourist boats capsize in Phuket, Thailand

At least seven missing after tourist boats capsize in Phuket, Thailand

Dozens of missing Chinese tourists are believed to be trapped in a sunken boat off the coast of the Thai holiday island of Phuket, an official said Friday, as divers were sent to explore the vessel.

In a separate incident in the same area Thursday evening a yacht called the Senerita carrying 39 people also capsized, the official added.

Phuket officials had earlier issued a warning of severe weather until Tuesday, including heavy rain and winds.

Photographs circulating on social media showed soaked and apparently exhausted people in life jackets being pulled on inflatable rafts to safety.

"We will search under the belly of the boat", the Marines said.

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

"Around 70 of the passengers were rescued and taken safely to the shore", he said, requesting not to be named.

They also showed survivors being lifted from the rafts and sitting in their life jackets amid ropes on the deck of what appears to be a fishing trawler.

More than 90 passengers were onboard when the boat began to keel over, prompting a rescue operation that stretched into the night and left authorities scrambling to react. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

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

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

Phuket is a magnet for overseas visitors including Western sun-seekers and Chinese tourists who will make up the bulk of the 35 million people expected to visit the kingdom this year. They said a rescue operation was underway to find the missing 56. "They have ignored our warnings many times before by departing from ports with tourists into the Andaman Sea while wind and waves are at unsafe level".

Around 48 people have been pulled to safety, but a desperate search continues for the others.

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