4-metre waves off Pha Ngan capsize tugboat, crew rescued

PHOTO: A tugboat capsized off the coast of Koh Pha Ngan, but all crew members were rescued. (via Nation)

At 4am on Saturday, tens of thousands of tourists and partiers were dancing the night away at a Full Moon Party on Haad Rin Beach, Koh Pha Ngan. Just 37 kilometres away off the coast of the popular holiday island catastrophe struck as huge waves capsized a tugboat, tossing all the crew members overboard into the swelling seas.

The crew of the “PL Arthena” tugboat were rescued nearly 10 hours later on Saturday afternoon after their vessel was knocked over by heavy waves in the early hours. The oil tanker “Napapa” spotted the victims in the waters of Surat Thani province off the coast of Haad Rin Beach at around 1.45pm.

Rescuers worked for around an hour, but the sailors aboard the oil tanker managed to pull every single member of the tugboat crew out of the stormy, windy ocean. The crew of the oil tanker then got in touch with the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) to request assistance in getting the tugboat sailors safely back to land.

The victims were transported by the RTN to nearby Koh Samui island to the government hospital in Nathon. They were given a check-up to ensure they were all healthy and unharmed. The captain of PL Arthena said that the tugboat had left Surat Thani at 2pm on Friday. By late evening they were pummelled by waves as high as 4 metres. The tugboat was overpowered by the waves and it sunk at around 4am on Saturday the captain explained.

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“We decided to abandon the boat as water filled the hull and brought the engine to a halt.”

Nation Thailand reported that all of the crew members were safe, though understandably exhausted after their ordeal on the open sea for hours and hours.

The Gulf of Thailand was very choppy and rough this weekend. Strong winds and isolated thundershowers that knocked out power in Koh Pha Ngan Friday night and a large part of Saturday also caused high waves since Friday. The rough seas made the rescue efforts more challenging, but the crew of the “Napapa” were able to successfully bring all of the capsizing victims to safety.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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