PHUKET: High praise has been rolling in for the crew from Phuket’s Prestige Divers who rendered assistance to a tourist-laden speedboat that quickly sank off Koh Yao Yai in Phang Nga Bay on Thursday.
“My crew did a fantastic job. It all happened within 10 minutes. We were on a normal day trip to Phi Phi when at about 10:30am we just happened to pass by the vessel,” said Micha Hildner, managing director of Prestige Divers.
“We heard the shouts for help and pulled up close enough to span two lines and we jumped into the water to help get people on board. It was a perfect New Year’s gift, to be able to help and get everyone safely on board,” he said.
The Prestige Divers’ vessel turned back to Phuket, foregoing its trip to Phi Phi.
“Many of the customers on our boat were leaving Phuket the next day, so we gave all of them their money back. Our main priority was getting everyone safely on board. There were many children there,” Mr Hildner said.
No injuries were reported in the rescue.
Lt Col Panya Chaichana of the Phuket Marine Police said that foul weather was the likely cause of the sinking.
The tour speedboat Manific was carrying 28 people: 24 tourists, a guide, a photographer and two crew. It sank near the tip of Laem Hua Lan (Cape Hua Lan).
“So far our investigation indicates that the boat sank after being overcome by big waves that cracked the hull,” he said.
Mr Hildner at Prestige Divers attested to the weather being a major factor on the day. “It was quite windy and there were strong waves that day. Accidents do happen. It is very possible that the waves caused the problem,” he said.
Lt Col Panya said Marine Police had yet to locate the sunken speedboat.
“At this stage all we know is that the boat was chartered by Phuket Tropical Marine Company from an independent operator working out of the Boat Lagoon Marina.
“We are continuing our investigation into what happened,” he said.
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