KOH SAMUI: Police have identified five of the people who drowned between Koh Samui and Koh Pha-Ngan after the speedboat they were in sank in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The search continues for another 16 people who have been reported as missing by family or friends.
Police are not, however, discounting the possibility that some of the missing might have been rescued by other vessels in the area – or may not have been abord the boat.
But Pol Cpl Pongkasem Thanawanitnam of Koh Samui Police Station, speaking to the Gazette today, admitted, “We are not sure how many passengers the speedboat was carrying when she sank.”
The dead were named by Koh Samui Hospital as: Zachary Tschetter, 38, from the US; Marc Elster Bradley, 30, from the UK; Seree Kerdsuwan, from Nakorn Sri Thammarat; Komkrit Channong from Trang; and Lumpoo Piwsa from Nakhon Ratchasima.
Two foreigners, a man and a woman, have yet to be identified.
Samran Rungrueng, the captain of the speedboat operated by the Sea Breeze company, surrendered to police this morning.
Samran has been charged with negligence causing death and is currently in police custody, although the Gazette understands that he has made an application for bail.
David Broo, from Sweden, was a passenger and described the scene to Samui’s Community magazine: “I heard the engines cut out and felt the boat turning over so I jumped overboard.
“When I came up for air people were screaming and trying to climb back onto the hull. I swam back to help, but then someone panicked and dragged me under water so I realized it was too dangerous and moved away.
“Two or three boats passed without seeing us, but then after about 20 minutes, another boat came and picked us up. We tried to use CPR on one man but it seemed he was already dead.
“We had to leave some people behind, but I saw more boats going out to pick up the other survivors. There was no organized rescue operation until much later, I think.”
Koh Samui Police are still investigating the cause of the sinking and have speculated that the steering system’s hydraulics may have snapped, causing the boat to to swerve uncontrollably.
Anyone who is concerned about a relative or friend who they believe may have been aboard the boat is asked to call Koh Samui Police at Tel: 66 (0) 77-421095 or Koh Samui Hospital at Tel: 66 (0) 77-421399.
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