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Published on : Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Captain of the tourist boat that capsized and sank off Thailand’s seaside resort of Pattaya last week has confessed to delinquency, while initial investigation also points to overloading and poor onboard safety.
The 42-year-old captain, Saman Kwanmuang, turned himself in to the police shortly after the incident on Sunday, saying that he lost control of the vessel because he took some drugs before going to work.
As a result, the ferry wandered off course, hit rocks and breached the water pump, said the captain, whose license has been revoked.
Many passengers on the lower deck, who were not warned by the crew about the breach, panicked and rushed to the second floor, causing the boat to flip on one side and sink.
The ferry was en route on a 30-minute trip from Koh Lan island to Pattaya, carrying about 200 Thai and foreign passengers, above its 130-150 capacity. It sank about 1.5 km offshore from Pattaya.
Six passengers, including three foreigners and three Thais, were killed in the accident. Over 100 were injured, ten seriously. They were rushed to a hospital in Pattaya for treatment and most were discharged on Monday.
Survivors recalled that they couldn’t find enough life jackets on the boat and had to cling onto ice buckets or other objects for life.
A team of 10 divers sent out by local authorities on Monday found no other bodies. The sunken vessel will be salvaged next month.
The owner of the ferry will pay 500,000 baht in compensation to each family of those killed in the accident and 115,000 baht to each injured.
In August, a speedboat carrying a Chinese tour group crashed with a long-tail boat on the way from Koh Lan island to Pattya, killing two passengers and injuring seven.