‘Phoenix’ hauled up from seabed off Phuket

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Photo taken on Nov. 17, 2018 shows silt-covered “Phoenix” being hauled up from the sea floor by salvage vessel near Thailand’s southern tourist island Phuket. Xinhua

PHUKET (Xinhua) –A tour ship with 105 people on board, including 93 Chinese tourists and 12 Thai crew that went down in bad weather on July 5 off the coast of Thailand’s tourist hotspot Phuket was plucked out of the sea on Saturday.

The Phoenix sank in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Ko He on the way back from a popular snorkelling spot. Forty seven people, mostly Chinese tourists, lost their lives in what has been described as one of Thailand’s worst boating accidents.

The ship’s captain was subsequently charged with negligence leading to damages, injury and death.

Divers and the navy spent more than a week retrieving bodies, some from within the watery tomb, bringing the death toll to 47 Chinese tourists.

More than four months after the tragic incident, Thai authorities were able to retrieve the Phoenix using a 1,000-tonne crane ship hired from Singapore at a cost of 35 million baht, about US$1 million, said a statement issued by the Thai immigration police department.

“The Phoenix was brought to the surface at 3:20pm,” it said.

According to photos provided by the Thai immigration police, the once-white vessel emerged from the water covered entirely in sea silt, with people in life jackets working to hoist it to the massive crane ship.

Deputy national police chief Rungrot Saengkram said the authorities needed to salvage the Phoenix “to express sincerity to the Chinese government”.

He added that they wanted to determine the “real reason” for the capsizing.

The Phoenix was among three vessels which ignored a bad weather warning against island day trips on the day of the accident.

Chinese visitors to Thailand drop after Phuket boat tragedy

“Investigators, experts and engineers from Germany, and forensics will examine the structure of the Phoenix to see whether the equipment was up to standard,” said Mr Rungrot.

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