Missing fishermen safely home

AO MAKHAM: Two Thai fishermen missing after their boat sank on Tuesday night have returned home safely after being in the water for more than 20 hours. The men managed to climb ashore at Ao Makham yesterday evening after having drifted around the length of the island.

The fishing boat Sin Piphat sank in rough seas about 13 miles west of the Sarasin Bridge after being hit by a large wave.

Eight of the 10 Thai and Burmese crew members were picked up yesterday morning about six miles west of Phuket International Airport by a Royal Thai Navy rescue helicopter after spending the night clinging on to two gas tanks.

The remaining two fisherman, who had grabbed life buoys just before the vessel went down, were separated from the group.

Commodore Thiwa Daramuang, of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, told the Gazette that the Navy received a call yesterday evening at 6 pm saying that the two missing fisherman were alive after having floated to Ao Makham.

“Life buoys can carry people on water better than gas tanks, though I’m still very surprised that both of them came ashore so far away from the Sarasin Bridge area. The strong winds and tides always bring things to the south of the island. The men managed to bring themselves safely to shore at Ao Makham,” Cdre Thiwa explained.

“The strong winds made it very difficult for us to locate the missing men; by the time we received a report that a boat had sunk the men had already been carried a long way from the scene. The eight crew members picked up yesterday morning had also drifted a considerable distance,” he added.

Commodore Phuchong Rodnikorn told the Gazette that a call had been received from the two men’s relatives at 6 pm yesterday saying that both were safe and had got home by taking the local bus from Ao Makham to Phuket City.

“I’m not sure at exactly what time they got out of the water but we got a call at 6 pm saying that they were alive,” he said.

Cdre Phuchong explained that it was quite possible for the men to have been swept all the way from Sarasin Bridge, around the south end of the island and north again to Ao Makham because of the strong winds caused by Typhoon Chanchu, which is currently battering southern China.

However, he added, the two fishermen have not yet met or talked with any naval officers.

Cdre Thiwa added that the Navy rescue service is available 24 hours a day and can be contacted at Tel: 076-391598.

Phuket News

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