At least seven missing after tourist boats capsize in Phuket, Thailand



The boat was carrying dozens of Chinese tourists when it overturned, with the strong winds brought by the monsoon season bringing adverse weather conditions on the water.

One survivor, a Chinese woman, was rushed to hospital in Phuket, according to an AFP reporter at the scene, after she was also found several miles from the boat, floating near the bodies of fellow passengers.

Stunned survivors huddled in blankets on a Phuket pier late Thursday.

The boat was one of three to encounter difficulties at sea in the area on Thursday, the navy said.

The two other missing people were on the boat Senerita, which was carrying 42 people - 35 tourists, five crew, one tour guide and one photographer.

The Phoenix was among several boats that appeared to have ignored a warning in place since Wednesday not to take tourists on day-trips to the islands that dot the seas off Phuket. Thai divers scoured the wreckage of a boat with Chinese tourists that sank in a storm off the resort island of Phuket.

"There were high winds this evening", he said, adding a further 10 pleasure boats were stranded at sea.

"They were all wearing life jackets."

They said they were providing food, shelter and water to the people, and if the weather did not clear, larger boats belonging to the navy would be sent to retrieve them.

"We have given warnings ... but the winds are strong."

The boat was returning to Phuket from Koh Racha at around 4pm (9am in Britain) when a storm hit, according to the captain, Somjing Boontham.

Two other separate boat capsizes were reported in the same area yesterday evening.

Thailand is already making headlines after a young footbal team consisting of 12 boys and their junior coach were found alive earlier this week after becoming trapped in a cave in the north of the island.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency said its consulate in the southern Thai city of Songkhla had been informed by local authorities that two vessels with Chinese nationals on board had capsized and that efforts were under way to rescue them.

Road and boat accidents involving tourists are common in Thailand, where safety standards are sometimes well below worldwide norms.

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