Russian tourists survive as tour boat sinks off Coral Island

Photo courtesy of Phuket News

A tour boat named Martini carrying six Russian tourists, sank off Koh Hey, also known as Coral Island, yesterday, January 9. Thankfully, no injuries were reported from the incident, according to the Phuket Marine Office.

The tour boat named Martini met its unfortunate fate near Nam Bo Bay, on the west side of Koh Hey around 3.50pm. The vessel had embarked on its journey from the Chalong Bay Marina pier at 9.40am, with stops planned at Koh Maithon and the Racha Islands, Phuket Marine Chief Natchapong Pranit informed.

At the helm of the operation was the boat owner and operator, 31 year old Chakri Kaenkhong. The vessel was mooring at Nam Bo Koh Hey Bay when the incident occurred, Pranit stated. A total of nine individuals were on board, including six Russians – among them four boys aged 4, 9 and 14 years, along with Chakri and his crew, 17 year old Amarin Danadee and 44 year old Phattharapon Kothalin.

The sinking was primarily caused by water entering the engine room through a leaky water pipe, according to Chakri. Despite the crew’s tireless efforts, the water flooded in too rapidly to be pumped out in time, resulting in the sinking of the boat.

The weather conditions at the time of the incident were reported to be normal, with calm wind and waves. The nearby vessel Panwa Princess was instrumental in the rescue operation, successfully evacuating all tourists and the boat crew. The rescued individuals were safely transported to the pier of Cape Panwa Hotel in Wichit, where they received assistance.

Phuket Marine Chief Natchapong confirmed that all passengers and crew emerged unscathed from the incident. Additionally, no oil leaks were detected in the vicinity where the boat sank. The tourists were subsequently escorted to their hotels in Karon.

Licence trouble

Natchapong also confirmed that the boat’s registration had not expired, and the ship operator’s certificate remained valid. However, the boat was found to violate certain conditions outlined in the boat licence, including the absence of an engine operator or engine operator licence and being used for unintended purposes, reported Phuket News.

In response to these violations, the Phuket Marine Office announced plans to take legal action to the fullest extent possible. The authorities are also set to install lighted buoys marking the location of the sunken boat until the wreck is salvaged. The public has been assured of regular updates on the progress of the investigation, the official report stated.

Phuket NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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