A Phuket fishing crew survived for nearly one month at sea after their boat, the Soi Sakul Petch, suffered engine failure a week after it departed from the island in southern Thailand on January 19.
The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) launched a huge search operation after losing contact with the boat, combining marine and air searches, and reached out to authorities in Malaysia and Indonesia in case the boat has entered their territorial waters.
Until yesterday at 9am, the RTN’s Third Naval Area command was notified by the Phuket Regional Harbour Office that a group of fishing boats, 42 nautical miles southwest of Phuket, had made radio contact with the Soi Sakul Petch.
Commander of the Third Area Command, Vice Admiral Apakorn Yukongkaew, ordered a plane to patrol the area until at 11.19am, they found the missing boat.
The navy sent out a helicopter to provide initial assistance to the four crew members, two Thais and two Burmese, who were all safe.
The navy managed to finally reach the crew at 12 noon and brought the crew members to shore at Rassada Pier via speedboat.
As the RTN suspected, Soi Sakul Petch suffered engine failure, causing it to drift out to sea.
The navy coordinated with fishing boats in Phuket to have the boat hauled back to shore for repairs.
Crew member Rung Khamluewong told the navy that the boat began to drift on January 26 after the engine failed. He said the engine failed because the gears broke causing oil to spill until it ran out, near Koh Raya island.
The crew said they survived by catching and eating raw fish. They had a stove but could not get it to work as their fuel for cooking ran out too, said Rung.
The crew said they rationed the drinking water they had on board for fear it would run out.
All four of the crew were in stable, healthy condition.
Last week, nine Swedish tourists and a Thai boat driver were rescued from the Krabi sea in southern Thailand when their longtail boat capsized near Hong Island.
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