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Ferry Boat Accident Claims At Least Three

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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KOH SAMUI: Three passengers, including two foreigners, drowned and more remain missing and feared dead after a ferry boat bound for Koh Tao capsized early yesterday morning north of Surat Thani. Authorities believe a heavy storm caused the overladen Panmaneesap 9 to take on water and capsize off the coast of Koh Wow, a small island northwest of Koh Samui, at around 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. Pol Lt Col Wisoot Seekong, Deputy Superintendent of the Koh Samui Police, told the Gazette this morning that the bodies of three female victims were recovered – one Thai and two foreigners. One of the foreigners, Gabrial Sandercock, 30, has been identified by police. The names of the other two victims have not been released. Police said Sandercock, an Australian, was returning to Koh Tao following a visa run to Malaysia. The Australian Embassy in Bangkok has been notified of her death. According to police, the ferry, believed to be carrying 28-29 passengers and crew, departed Surat Thani shortly before midnight Tuesday. In addition to the passengers, the small ferry was laden with cargo. Off the coast of Koh Wow, about two-thirds of the way into its 115-kilometer journey, the boat capsized after encountering heavy seas, high winds and rain. The crew of a fishing trawler arrived at the scene and pulled passengers and crew – many of whom were not wearing life vests – to safety. Marine and Samui police units transported people to Samui Hospital in Nathon. A total of 18 passengers and crew were rescued and another seven or eight passengers remain unaccounted for. Four female foreigners were among those saved. Authorities did not release their names. A spokesman for Samui Hospital told the Gazette that 13 passengers were admitted yesterday and all were reported in good condition this morning. They were expected to be released later today. Pol Lt Col Wissoot said storms were continuing to hamper search efforts by police and the Royal Thai Navy Second Fleet. Authorities were questioning the private ferry boat operator and survivors as part of their probe into the accident. The unidentified owner, who police said operated the boat without proper registration, told authorities he maintained no records of the ill-fated passengers at Ban Don, the vessel’s origination point.

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