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Stranded Phi Phi tourists towed to Phuket safety



PHUKET: Sixty-six tourists were towed to safety in Phuket last night after spending hours stranded at sea when the speedboat they were on broke down.

In addition to the Australian, French, Indian, Spanish and Thai tourists aboard the Kamika speedboat, there were four staff members of the operating company, Phi Phi Island Marine.

Tourist Rescue officers in Chalong informed Marine Police at about 7pm yesterday that the engines on Kamika had stopped running about 15 miles offshore from Phuket, near Dokmai Island, on a return trip from Phi Phi Island, Lt Col Ritthee Phaothep said.

The boat left Phi Phi Island at about 4pm, he said.

Phuket Marine Police Officer Panya Chaichana and other officers were dispatched to the scene in a patrol boat. The strong winds and three to four-meter-high waves made it impossible for rescuers to transfer the tourists to the patrol boat, so they towed the troubled Kamika to safer waters near Tapao Yai Island, Lt Col Panya said.

Once at Tapao Yai, some of the tourists boarded the patrol boat while others remained on Kamika, which was towed to Rassada Pier in Phuket, he said.

Upon arrival in Phuket at about 11:30pm, some passengers were visibly weak, yet all were safe and seemed happy to be on dry land.

Kamika, however, eventually sank off Rassada pier after taking on water from the rear.

Initial police investigations revealed that the engine trouble was likely caused by a cracked fuel hose.

— Warisa Temram


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