KOH YAO: Nine people drowned when the overloaded passenger ferry Rungroj capsized and sank in heavy seas off Naka Island Saturday afternoon. One person is still missing.
Of the nine dead, five were children and three others were women.
The 13-meter vessel had left Bang Rong pier in Thalang District and was bound for Koh Yao Noi at about 3 pm when it was pummeled by waves whipped up in Saturday afternoon’s sudden rains and heavy winds.
An official at Koh Yao Hospital told the Gazette that the confirmed death toll reached nine when rescue workers this morning pulled the body of 14-year-old schoolgirl Tiparat Pinyo from the sea.
Phuket Police helicopters and vessels from the Marine Police, Customs Department and Navy as well as local fishing boats, which were first on the scene, all took part in the rescue effort.
Of the survivors, 56 of the 63 who received treatment at Koh Yao Hospital have already been released. Eleven people with serious injuries were transferred to Wachira Phuket Hospital.
A Marine Police unit salvaged the ferry yesterday. Although licensed to carry just 22 people, it was overloaded with about 70 passengers, along with 10 motorcycles and other cargo.
Koh Yao Police Station Superintendent Pol Col Weerasin Khwanseng said yesterday that ferry captain and owner Dol Rerngsumthorn had contacted the police to arrange his surrender and will face charges of reckless conduct leading to death and injury
Phuket Marine Police Inspector Pol Maj Prasert Srikunnarat told the Gazette that while some passengers were wearing life jackets, others were not.
One of the Rungroj survivors, 34-year-old Koh Yao resident Chanida Romin, told the Gazette from her hospital bed at Wachira Phuket Hospital, “It happened at around 3 pm. There were strong winds and heavy rain. I had come over to Phuket and was on my way back home.
“The captain told us not to panic. He also warned us not to all go to the same side of the boat, otherwise it could capsize. Then a woman said that we had to abandon ship, because the boat was filling up with water, but nobody believed her.
“However, after that, the captain himself was the first person to jump into the water. The crew told us to jump though the windows into the sea. By then the water was up to our knees. It was complete chaos as everybody struggled for life jackets [because there were not enough].
“Everyone managed to get off, but not everybody had a life jacket. I had one, and found myself in the water with two other people. One of them also had a life jacket but the other didn’t. The two of us could only watch as she was pulled under by a large wave. She drowned right in front of our eyes.
“We floated out there for about an hour, and I prayed to God the entire time to rescue us. Eventually we were rescued by a long-tail boat. Last night, I was up all night vomiting up sea water.
“I hope all the relevant government agencies will take action to prevent something like this from ever happening again,” she added.
The Rungroj capsizing was not the only emergency situation on Saturday afternoon.
Col Weerasin told the Gazette that the Phuket Marine Police also received a distress call from Koh Pai.
“That night, while we were working hard to search for survivors, we received a report that 70 tourists were stranded on Koh Pai. Their ferry was unable to return them to Phuket because of the storm.
“We sent a Marine Police boat to the island and were able to get them all back to Phuket safely,” he said, adding that the stranded tourists included both Thais and foreigners.
‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people
On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.
From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.
The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.
One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.
There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.
This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.
This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.
The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations
PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com
In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.
But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.
Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.
In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.
The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.
By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.
Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.
You can read the full list HERE.
Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com
Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com
Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works
The Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority says Rawai’s mains water supply will be shut off tomorrow (Tuesday, October 15) as new water pipes are fitted in front of The Title Beach Front condo resort complex on the town’s beachfront.
The mains water supply will be shut off from 9am until 4:30pm along the beachfront strip.
The PWA says the areas affected will be along Wiset Road along the Rawai beachfront road, as well as Soi Yanui and Soi Ruafaed.
Residents and businesses are being urged to collect water for use during the day today, before tomorrow morning’s shut-off.
As usual, the PWA say…“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Contact the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority on 076 319173 or 082 7901634 for more details.
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