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Phuket’s fireball yacht probe hits the doldrums



Phuket’s fireball yacht probe hits the doldrums | Thaiger

PHKET: The police investigation into whether or not any people were trapped inside a 40-foot yacht that burst into flames and sank last Saturday has stalled.

Chalong Police Duty Officer Boonlert Onklang told the Phuket Gazette on Wednesday that no person had claimed ownership of the yacht, which was identified by a witness to the fire as Karni.

“I checked with Phuket Immigration and the Marine Office [where all arriving yachts must check-in], but they had no information about who the owner is,” Lt Col Boonlert said.

He suspected the owner is a foreigner visiting Phuket as the boat was anchored in Chalong Bay for “many days” before the fire.

“As no one has been reported dead or injured from the fire, we cannot proceed with further action until someone claims to be the yacht’s owner,” he said.

“And we have yet to determine the cause of the fire,” he added.

Lt Col Rittee Paopan of the Phuket Marine Police said, “We received no reports of anyone being injured by the fire, so this case falls under the area of responsibility of Chalong Police.

“The yacht sank in shallow water and is only two kilometers offshore, but we cannot dive to inspect the wreck until we receive a request from Chalong Police,” he added.

The fire was first reported at about 10pm. Three explosions were heard as fire engulfed the vessel, which sank about two hours later.

Emergency rescue officers from the Tourist Rescue Center at Chalong Pier arrived alongside the burning vessel, but could not board to fight the fire as flames erupted from the hull, reported Lt Col Boonlert.

“Officers tried to put out the blaze with chemical fire extinguishers, but were not successful due to the strong wind,” he said.

— Janpen Upatising


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