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Writer recalls last moments of doomed diveboat

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Writer recalls last moments of doomed diveboat | Thaiger

PHUKET: Gazette diving writer Chris Cruz has described the dramatic moments before the dive boat he was on capsized and sank during a heavy storm on Tuesday, leaving a Thai woman dead.

The 24-meter Bubble Blue, with 18 people on board, was several hours into the seven-hour journey from Chalong port to the Similan Islands when it was caught in bad weather.

Speaking from his bed in Wachira Phuket Hospital yesterday, Mr Cruz said: “The storm was really very, very bad, so we had to slow down. In the morning, at 8 am, even as early as 6 am, the waves were very, very strong.

“We got caught in the middle of the storm. The waves kept smashing into the boat and water was coming inside, and slowly, slowly, we started sinking.”

Having handed out buoyancy aids to the others, Mr Cruz said he realised that water was being forced through an air vent near the engine room, and it was this which was causing the boat to list to port.

The captain, he said, told everyone to move to the starboard side of the boat – as there would be less chance of them being hit by heavy items falling to the lower side of the boat.

But then, he said, “Suddenly we were in the water. Luckily it happened in the daytime. If it had happened at night, it would have been a disaster.”

Sukonthapan Weerawan, 36, from Bangkok, drowned.

Mr Cruz said, “We did everything we could to save her, but we couldn’t. We put her in the dinghy – it had capsized but we managed to get it the right way up – and we performed CPR [cardio-pulmonary resuscitation] on her, gave her mouth-to-mouth, but she didn’t make it.”

He continued, “There was lots of debris floating in the water when the boat sank. We shared food and tried to hydrate ourselves. I was telling my friends to eat as much as they could because we didn’t know how long we would be in the water. Everyone helped each other.

“Everyone was very, very calm, although I think people were a little bit scared. But considering there were 18 of us and only one person died it shows that we were doing the right things.”

After two hours in the rough sea, the group was spotted and picked up by a Thai fishing boat.

According to Mr Cruz, Bubble Blue sank in 80 meters of water. He said: “We were so lucky the boat picked us up, otherwise we could have been in the water 18 or 20 hours. I [was worried that] boats wouldn’t come there because of the storm.”

The fishing boat was just 30 minutes from Phuket by the time the rescue helicopter and marine police boat reached it. Mr Cruz – whose shoulder was dislocated during the sinking – was taken to Wachira Phuket Hospital.

The boat had been chartered from Bubble Blue Scuba company in Phang Nga by the national park authorities to check on the state of reefs in the Similans and to prepare for the installation of a protective pontoon.

Mr Cruz, who is from the Philippines, had volunteered for the survey trip because he is a friend of the owners of Bubble Blue Scuba.

The boat had left Chalong at 10 pm on Monday. On board were 11 researchers and divers, and seven crew. Said Mr Cruz: “When we left, the clouds were okay [and] the stars were out, so we didn’t think there was going to be a storm.”

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Phuket

We’re looking for a Video Editor/Production Assistant in Phuket

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The Thaiger is seeking a full time video editor and production assistant for a new project based in Phuket. The role is open to a Thai national but with great English skills as well. You will need to be able to work to deadlines with a crazy bunch of stressed out news hosts, guests and the rest of The Thaiger team.

You’ll also need a general knowledge of the Thai news cycle as the content will be largely centred around daily news and current affairs. Knowledge of social media, and especially YouTube, will be an advantage.

Prior work in the TV or video production industry would be a requirement; we couldn’t care less about your educational qualifications. The role would be Monday to Friday.

The work hours would be earlier in the day, probably starting around 7am. There may be some occasional travel to Bangkok involved as well. Salary would be between 30-40,000 baht per month, depending on experience with opportunities for bonuses. The initial contract would be for 3 months, renewable.

If you are interested, or know someone who could fit the job, send an email to THAIGER EDITOR at info@thethaiger.com

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket red zone list adds Krabi, Trang, Ranong, Phatthalung

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The Phuket checkpoint now lists 25 provinces as a red zone.

Visitors to Phuket from Krabi, Trang, Ranong, and Phatthalung will now have to prove they’re vaccinated or have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, as they’ve been added to the red zone province list. People entering without those qualifications will have to take a rapid antigen test on the spot before being allowed into Phuket.

The 4 provinces join a group of 21 other provinces already on the Phuket red zone list requiring strict measures to enter. That list even includes Phuket itself, as people do exit the province have to prove a negative test or vaccination before being allowed to re-enter.

Phuket’s vice governor made the announcement yesterday after the governor signed the order and put it into effect until at least May 15th. That same order requires all trucks transporting goods to travel from 11 pm to 5 am, the nighttime hours that other people are not allowed to enter the island. Phuket recently closed its entry checkpoints from late night to early morning after reports of exhaustion from the health officials working to test everyone or verify their credentials.

Delivery drivers will also have to pass the same requirements as red zone province arrivals before entering Phuket. Any driver who does not have a negative test within 72 hours or proof that they’ve received both doses of a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration, will be forced to wait until the regular checkpoint opens at 5 am to receive a rapid antigen test.

Over 40,000 people from red zones have now been tested at the checkpoint to enter Phuket. In the first week of the requirement which began on April 22, health officials tested more than 22,000 people, overwhelming staff and prompting the government to close the entrance from 11 pm to 5 am to give checkpoint workers a break.

The 25 provinces currently classified as a red zone for entering Phuket are as follows:

Bangkok Nakhon Pathom Pathum Thani Rayong Suphan Buri
Chiang Mai Nakhon Ratchasima Phatthalung Sa Kaeo Surat Thani
Chonburi Nakhon Sri Thammarat Phuket Samut Prakan Tak
Khon Kaen Narathiwat Prachuap Khiri Khan Samut Sakhon Trang
Krabi Nonthaburi Ranong Songkhla Udon Thani

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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