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Vessel operators to face legal actions after boat accident kills at least 33 in southern Thailand

(Xinhua)    09:06, July 07, 2018

PHUKET, Thailand, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Owners and steersmen of boats that sank off the coast of southern Thailand's Phuket are facing charges of recklessness, Thailand's deputy prime minister warned on Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the boats left the journey from Phuket's shore to the satellite island of Racha Island despite a weather warning and a ban on boats leaving the dock by the Meteorological Department.

"The Meteorological Department had warned against leaving shore from July 4 to 6 and they would not listen," said the deputy prime minister.

"The captain and the boat owner took out the boat without heeding the warning so they will be held responsible," he said.

Prawit mentioned that it was sunny when the boats set sails but when they travelled further in deep sea, they were swamped in a furious storm with rough sea of 5 meters high.

"The Phuket Marine Office has announced that any boat less than 10 meters long, which was planning to travel to Phi Phi Island and Racha Island, is not allowed to leave ports in this period," said Phuket Marine Office Chief Surat Sirisaiyat.

Two boats carrying tourists, mostly Chinese, were overturned by rough seas Thursday afternoon and a personal water craft carrying two foreign tourists also capsized.

According to Phuket governor Norraphat Plodthong, a total of 148 people were affected in the three incidents. He said at least 33 passengers were killed and 23 others remained missing.

The Chinese Embassy in Thailand confirmed earlier Friday that at least 16 Chinese tourists were killed, 78 were rescued and 33 remained missing.

Chinese tourists are the biggest contributor to Thai tourism. Phuket is a popular destination for Chinese tourists.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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