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    Phuket Koh Racha boat capsizes, 2 still missing

    WEATHER

    Businessmen missing after boat capsizes

    Two businessmen were reported missing after their boat capsized in heavy rain off Koh Racha in Phuket province yesterday afternoon, marine police said.


    The businessmen had chartered a boat for a fishing excursion off the island in company with three others, including a Taiwanese, who were rescued from the sea.

    A navy helicopter joined the search which was halted last night by lack of visibility and rough seas.

    Police said both missing men were from Phuket.

    In Satun, a fishing boat skipper and nine crewmen were rescued after their vessel sank in the storm.

    In Trang, a landslide triggered by heavy rain obstructed traffic on a road in Muang district in the late afternoon.

    The landslide blocked more than 20 metres of Ban Thung Kuan road. The tambon administration organisation asked the provincial administration organisation to help remove the debris.

    The Meteorological Department yesterday issued a warning that tropical storm Lekima would bring heavy downpours to several northern and northeastern provinces with the Northeast from today.

    Lekima, named after a type of fruit in Vietnam, was about 470 kilometres from Danang and packing winds of about 90 kilometres per hour.

    It was expected to intensify the southwestern monsoon which prevails over the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, according to the department.

    In northern Mae Hong Son province, work crews have begun repairing a flood-damaged bridge across a river in Mae Sariang district.

    In eastern Trat province, Muang and Khao Saming districts were flooded by heavy rain, with flash floods reported on Sunday night. Floodwaters rose to around 80cm in municipal areas.

    More rain is expected in the East and South.

    The department warned residents in flood-risk provinces in the two regions to brace for flash floods, landslides and forest run-offs over the next two to three days.

    The provinces are Chanthaburi, Trat, Ranong, Phangnga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang, Satun and Surat Thani.

    Bangkok Post

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    Phuket Search continues for missing men after boat sinking

    Search continues for missing men after boat sinking


    PHUKET: The Phuket Marine Police and the Royal Thai Navy Third Naval Command continue to search the waters around Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi for two missing men whose fishing boat capsized and sank in heavy seas late Sunday afternoon.

    Phuket Marine Police Inspector Lt Col Prasert Srikunnarat identified the two men as Surat Boonserm and Phuthong Tirawattana, both part of a five-man party that left Phuket in a 20-meter recreational fishing vessel on Saturday.

    “Their boat capsized about four nautical miles east of Koh Racha Yai about 5 pm after being hit by waves whipped up by tropical storm Lekima,” Col Prasert said.

    The five survivors, all wearing life jackets, disagreed about what to do after their boat sank, he added.

    “Three of the men decided to stay in the area where the boat sank and wait for help, while Surat and Phuthong tried to swim to a tiny island visible in the distance.”

    About 10 am on Monday, the Navy received a report from the fishing boat that a small group of people were spotted floating in the sea about six kilometers east of Koh Racha Yai.

    Two Marine Police vessels were dispatched and picked up the three men about 3 pm, returning them to the Phuket Deep Sea Port about 6 pm.

    They were identified as Thais Jit Suwannarat, 55, and Prasert Saetee, 45, and Taiwanese national Ou Tien Fa, operator of a Chinese Restaurant at Saphan Hin.

    Lt Cdr Narong Onpakdee of the Third Naval Command told the Gazette the combined police and Navy search for their two companions has been hindered by strong winds that have prevented the navy from doing an aerial search by helicopter.

    A 30-meter Navy vessel searched a small island located between Racha Yai and Racha Noi after a report that some people were spotted there, but the men were not found.

    The Navy continue to check with the two men’s relatives and local harbors to see if there have been any reports of their appearance.

    As both men were wearing life jackets, they are presumed to still be alive, he said.

    Continued strong winds and heavy seas have forced fishing vessels at Koh Racha to remain in port, he added.

    Phuket Gazette

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    Survivor recounts life-or-death struggle

    Survivor recounts life-or-death struggle


    PHUKET: One of two recreational fisherman missing since Saturday when a boat capsized off Koh Racha Yai was finally rescued by Phuket Marine Police yesterday afternoon after surviving five days on a small, rocky island.

    The search for fellow missing fisherman Phuthong Tirawattana continues.

    Phuket Marine Police aboard the vessel Chawengsak Songkram picked up Surat “Dang” Boonserm, 53, about 4:30 pm yesterday after he was spotted on the small, rocky island Koh Nui, near Koh Racha Noi.

    K. Surat and K. Phuthong were among five fishermen, all wearing life jackets, whose rented fishing boat capsized in heavy seas and sank off Koh Racha Yai last Saturday about 3 pm.

    The first three fishermen, rescued about 5 pm on Monday after spending more than a day floating in stormy seas, told Marine Police that K. Surat and K. Phuthong had left the group to swim to a small island visible in the distance.

    Yesterday, the Marine Police launched a dinghy to scour small rocky islands off Koh Racha Noi, where surrounding waters are too shallow for large vessels to approach.

    K. Surat, a cook at Mae La Seafood Restaurant at Saphan Hin, was finally spotted on the tiny island of Koh Nui. Battered, bruised and very hungry, his first words to his rescuers were a request for food.

    It took Marine Police about two hours to rescue K. Surat and get him to a waiting ambulance from Vachira Phuket Hospital. Part of the delay was due to the fact that a large cruise ship from the Star Cruise line had to be moved to allow the Chawengsak Songkram to berth.

    Once onshore, K. Surat was rushed for treatment for numerous cuts and bruises, most of which were inflicted when he climbed over barnacle-covered rocks onto the island while strong waves pounded the shoreline.

    Still traumatized by the five-day ordeal, K. Surat said, “I will never go back to the sea for as long as I live.”

    Asked why he and K. Phuthong had chosen to swim away from the group, he said they thought they had a better chance of survival by swimming to the island.

    Large waves separated him from K. Phuthong as they approached the island around dusk.

    “He was there with me and then we were separated when a huge wave hit. When I looked again I couldn’t see him through the darkness,” he said.

    K. Surat was battered against the rocks by the strong waves but finally managed to pull himself up to the relative safety of tiny Koh Nui.

    “It is a very cruel environment. There are no people, but lots of dangerous animals like pythons, monitor lizards and huge stinging ants. I was afraid they would be attracted to my bloody wounds and try to eat me so I spent much of my time up a tree,” said K. Surat.

    Although a Buddhist, K. Surat said he prayed to local deity Por Ta Toh Sae, after whom Toh Sae Hill in Phuket City is named, for safe deliverance back to Phuket.

    “I survived by using leaves to collect rainwater on the rocks, but as a result also consumed some seawater. I also tried to suck fresh water from small cavities in the rocks. I saw the [Navy] helicopter pass by [on Tuesday] and rescue ships just about every day. I shouted at the top of my lungs and waved my life jacket to try and attract attention, but they didn’t see me,” he said.

    K. Surat’s wife, 52-year-old Jeed Boonserm, told the Gazette she had gone out with the Marine Police every day and was with them when her husband was finally rescued.

    “I was crying so much that my eyes stopped making tears,” she said.

    Also accompanying Marine Police on the search were Mae La Seafood Restaurant owner Ou Tien Fa of Taiwan and restaurant staffer Jit Suwannarat, both of who were rescued on Monday.

    Marine Police are continuing the search for K. Phuthong, who they think could still be alive on an island somewhere in Phang Nga Bay as he was last seen wearing a life jacket.

    Phuket Gazette

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    Last victim found dead

    Last victim found dead


    SATUN: The body of a man missing at sea for 17 days after the boat he was on sunk off Koh Racha Yai was recovered by Marine Police yesterday at Koh Tarutao in Satun.

    Phuthong Tirawattana, an employee of the Tai Lee Yong seafood restaurant in Saphan Hin, was one of five co-workers left floating through the night in stormy seas after his rented fishing boat capsized on September 29 off Koh Racha Yai.

    The following morning he accompanied another man, Surat Boonserm, in leaving the group to try and swim to the safety of a small island visible in the distance.

    The other three men were rescued from the sea later the same day and K. Surat from an island five days later, but K. Phuthong was never seen again.

    Phuket Marine Police Inspector Pol Col Lt Prasert Srikunnarat told the Gazette that K. Phuthong’s badly decomposed body, still clad in a life jacket, was recovered yesterday by Satun Marine Police off Koh Tarutao, some 200 kilometers south of Phuket.

    “The Satun Marine Police received a report from local fisherman that they found a dead body in a life jacket stuck to a rock at Tarutao. Satun Marine Police contacted us after relatives of the victim traveled to Satun and identified the body as that of K. Phuthong,” he said.

    K. Phuthong’s body was returned to Phuket yesterday. Bathing rites and cremation will be conducted at Wat Saen Suk in Phuket City.

    Phuket Gazette

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