Rescuers are aiming to have a go at raising the wreck of ‘Phoenix’ today.
Divers, mostly volunteers, have been confronted with a scene of horror as they defended 47 metres off the coast of Koh Hei into the wreckage of ‘Phoenix’. They reported seeing mothers still holding they babies, bodies suspended in the lower lounge are of the sunken boat.
At least 41 people are now confirmed as dead. 15 are still missing with hopes fading that any more survivors will be found.
Phuket’s professional diving contingent was thin on the ground on Friday morning when the call went out for help in a frantic search for survivors from the Thursday evening disaster. But many of the island’s professionals were already in Chiang Rai, helping in the international rescue attempt at the Tham Luang caves.
One local diver who assisted with the recovery mission, who asked not to be named, says “the morning after the event a call went out on the expat diving groups for volunteers to help recover bodies, especially those with technical diving experience (recreational divers, even instructors cannot and do not typically dive below 40 metres, and the wreck sits at 47 metres).”
“The volunteers were all expats with very mixed backgrounds and nationalities, ages. The depth made the operation more difficult, because it requires divers with spefic skills and experience – overhead environments and more complicated diving.”
Late yesterday afternoon the underwater search was stopped. The Royal Thai Navy say that they are taking over the remaining search and retrieval activities. Rear Admiral Charoenphone Khumrasee is reported in AFP saying that “the rest of the bodies would surface naturally.”
48 passenger, the crew and the boat’s captain, were able to get off the boat before it sank on Thursday night. The captain of the Phoenix and also the Serenata (the other boat that sank, but with no casualties), have already been charged with “negligence leading to damages, injury and death” as the investigation begins.