Phuket

Tourists abandoned in stormy sea after illegal longtail sinks off Krabi

KRABI: A boat captain abandoned four tourists in rough seas, leaving them clinging to rocks, after his overloaded longtail boat capsized near Wang Sai Seafood restaurant, en route to Ao Nang from Railay Friday afternoon.

The boat was overloaded with nearly twice the vessel’s maximum capacity of eight people. Canadians, Polish and Spanish men and women were among the passengers on board when the boat capsized and sank after being struck by violent waves, said police.

“A passing boat picked up ten of the stranded tourists along with the longtail’s captain, who fled once ashore,” said Ao Nang Police Maj Sontat Wattanawalan.

The remaining four passengers managed to hang on to rocks until another tour boat came to their rescue. They all survived the ordeal with scratches from being buffeted by the waves against the rocks.

The boatman, Bumroong Panan, 30, later surrendered to police, claiming that he was not at fault. He blamed three passengers for sitting at the bow of the boat, causing it to topple over.

“I told them to move but they ignored me. After the boat capsized, I was shocked and confused so I ran away, but I’ve turned myself in now because I didn’t mean to cause any harm. It’s not my fault,” insisted Mr Bumroong.

Police charged Mr Bumroong with several offenses, including reckless driving causing injury and damage to property, overloading his boat, as well as operating a vessel with an out-of-date boat license, which had expired in March.

As Mr Bumroong’s boat measures just over 10 meters long (10.3m), he narrowly escaped additional charges for using the boat while restrictions were in place to prevent small boats measuring 10 meters or less from venturing out to sea during the adverse weather this week.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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