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Heartbreaking scenes described in Thai boat sinking; 38 dead

AP  |  Phuket (Thailand) 

Divers who entered the wreck of a tour boat that sank in a storm off the southern Thai resort island of described heartbreaking scenes of bodies of children found in the arms of their mothers, as the search continued today for 18 mostly Chinese tourists missing in a disaster that has left dozens dead.

The death toll from Thursday's tragedy climbed to 38, in Thailand's biggest tourist-related disaster in years. It was not clear how many of the dead and missing were Chinese. The previous announced death toll was 33, with authorities saying all of those victims were Chinese.

"It's very difficult to see ... it's traumatic, it's tragic but the best thing to do, our job as divers, is to bring back the bodies to their families," told reporters before resuming the

The boat, with 105 people, including 93 tourists, capsized and sank after it was hit by 5-meter (16-foot) waves.

The death toll jumped Friday after the sent divers to the wreck. In images shortly after the sinking, rescued people sat in surrounded by churning seas.

Gov announced at a conference today afternoon that the death toll had climbed further, to 38, with 18 missing.

Prayuth Chan-ocha, the of Thailand's military government, expressed his "sympathies and deepest condolences" to the families of the dead. The government will "exert all efforts to find those still missing and provide support to all survivors of this tragic event," he said in a statement.

Reports in Thai media said police charged the owner and of the stricken ship with carelessness causing death and injury.

Chinese called for and rescue efforts, telling the diplomats in to take greater measures, and also urging Thai authorities to spare no efforts.

Chinese had an "emergency conversation" by phone with Thai Deputy Somkid Jatusripitak, the said in a statement.

It quoted the calling on to quickly mobilize an for the missing and "to tend and make appropriate arrangements for the rescued Chinese tourists, treat and cure the injured and receive family members of the Chinese tourists involved." Lyu said it hoped the cause of the capsizing would be quickly ascertained and asked Somkid to have the relevant Thai agencies closely cooperate with on the matter.

Fatal accidents among foreign tourists at are not unusual, but normally involve drownings in unsafe swimming areas or accidents involving smaller boats.

Thai officials were rushing to cope with some of the logistics of the aftermath of the sinking.

At the request of Phuket's governor, the Tourist Association was seeking 80 volunteer Chinese language translators to assist the outgoing Chinese passengers at the provincial airport.

Many of the victims had been on group tours, booked in Phuket and

The government of the eastern Chinese city of Haining in province said on its official microblog account that it received a distress alert sent by phone text message from the of the Haining Haipai Furniture Co Ltd., from yesterday morning.

It said that 37 of the furniture company's employees and family members had traveled together to Phuket and that on July 5 at around 5 pm they encountered the "biggest storm in five years" and they sought the government's help. The group had booked their tours to the on their own, said the posting.

A Chinese based in the central province of said on its official account that three travelers it had booked were missing.

said it had sent personnel to Phuket to help out its clients, who also included 35 passengers who had to be rescued from another boat that it had chartered that ran into trouble on Thursday. It said that second boat had lost power after being swamped by waves. All on board were returned safely to shore.

The accidents came as rescuers, also led by divers, support 12 boys and their stranded nearly two weeks inside a flooded cave in the country's far north, and try to determine how and when to extract them.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, July 07 2018. 16:40 IST