Survivors of Phuket ferry inferno start flying home

PHUKET: Ten of the tourists who survived the lethal ferry blaze that killed 12-year-old Israeli girl Shani Manil on Wednesday (story here) have flown home, police confirmed.

“The 10 people who flew out of Phuket yesterday said that they needed to get back home,” said Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Samarn Chainarong.

“We have their statements already, so there was no need to keep them here any longer.”

In their statements many survivors recalled the horror of fleeing the fire by leaping into the water.

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Natalie Lee, a 29-year-old Briton on her honeymoon, recalled how she and her husband had to quickly put on life vests and jump into the sea to escape the blaze.

One Chinese tourist said that she was floating in the water for about half an hour before a boat came by and rescued her.

“I am still scared and want to go home now. I hope I can get a new passport soon,” the 22-year-old said, adding that her booked holiday is supposed to conclude next week.

Police set up an emergency assistance center at Phuket City Police Station so officers could obtain statements from the survivors, as well as provide assistance in obtaining new passports, emergency accommodation and help with any insurance claims.

A total of 91 tourists registered for help at the center, Col Samarn told the Phuket Gazette.

“They are from many different countries, including Australia, England, Hungary, China and Thailand. Many of them need a translator’s help,” he explained. “But they, too, will be able to leave as soon as we sort out all the necessary arrangements for them.”

Organizing accommodation has been hectic, he added, noting that the survivors registered at the center had been provided emergency accommodation at hotels in Patong, Karon, Kata, Kamala, Rawai, Koh Kaew and Phuket Town.

Police are now investigating the cause of the fire, reported The Nation.

The driver and the boat’s engineer have provided their statements and have yet to face any charges over the incident.

The boat will be salvaged and experts will be recruited to examine its condition, reported The Nation.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

Phuket News

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