Rescue workers and recovery teams are still searching for 4 missing people following the capsize and sinking of a car ferry off the coast of Surat Thani last Saturday night. The ferry, the Raja 4, was on its way back from Koh Samui, loaded with garbage trucks and was about 2 kilometres off Don Sak Pier, when the incident happened. There was poor weather, driving rain and waves up to 3 metres at the time, according to people on the ferry.
Local Surat Thani police, marine police, the Navy, Army and volunteers have spent today trying to locate the missing people. Helicopters from the Army and Navy have been used to assist in the search operations.
At this stage it is not clear what caused the ferry to become compromised and sink. No one has filed an official complaint against the ferry company, Raja Ferry, at this stage. The same company is also responsible for the major connections between the popular tourist islands and the mainland. The life rafts were deployed by crew but not all passengers were able to scramble onto them before the ferry sank.
Police Col. Pongkajorn Sukkasung from Koh Samui police says that they’re focusing on locating people right now.
“If the ferry company was negligent then prosecuting them for wrongdoing is the easy part.”
The car ferry sank around 10:30pm on Saturday night after setting off from Koh Samui, carrying 12 crew members (including Raja Ferry staff) and 4 passengers, as well as three 18 wheeler garbage trucks. The vessel then ran into high waves causing it to capsize. There were 2 other ferries in the area at the time that steamed to the scene and were able to rescue 9 of the passengers and crew.
7 people were missing in the immediate period after the sinking but 2 were found on nearby Koh Taen. A dead crew from the ferry was also found near Koh Taen. Earlier media reports say that the captain had been found dead, washed up on a nearby beach.
One of the 2 men found floating in the waters near the deserted island says that when everyone on the ferry realised that the boat was going to sink they all put on lifejackets. He told police that he became separated from the rest of the passengers because he was caught on the other side of the boat when it started sinking.
“The water swept me away from the ship very quickly. Later I saw the island and then tried to swim toward it.”
SOURCE: Khaosod English
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