Divers from MS Service Co, a company hired by Raja Ferry Plc to search for the missing and salvage the ferry, found the bodies trapped between lorries still chained to the sunken ferry in a search yesterday (Aug 17). It was not possible to retrieve them immediately because of the strong undercurrent.
They resumed the operation this morning and managed to bring the bodies up from the water at 8:50am.
The bodies were of Chaichan Laosap, 47, the driver of a 10-wheel lorry, and Tiwakorn Vacharit, 18, a crew member of the sunk ferry. They were taken by boat to Koh Samui for a post-mortem examination at Koh Samui Hospital.
Raja 4 ferry capsized in a heavy rainstorm between Koh 4 and Koh 5 islands, about 2 nautical miles from Koh Samui, heading for Don Sak pier on the mainland. It was carrying 16 people, a pick-up truck and three 10-wheel lorries laden with compressed garbage blocks and electronic waste.
In an initial search, 11 people on board the ferry were safely rescued, leaving five missing. Three of the missing were found dead in the first days of the search and the last two were found trapped between lorries on the submerged ship today.
The Panja Lucky Clean Environmental Co, which has been contracted to dispose of Koh Samui’s garbage, gave a token amount of B20,000 each to the families of the five people who died in the incident. The money was handed over through Thirapong Chuaychu, the Koh Samui district officer.
Wichawut Jinto, the Surat Thani governor, said he had instructed the provincial social security office, the office of disaster prevention and mitigation, and Raja Ferry Plc to work out compensation for the bereaved families.
He had also ordered the search ended and the closure of the the search and rescue command centre, which was located at the Samui naval station of the 2nd Naval Area.
Raja Ferry sources said the operation to salvage Raja 4 ferry would begin on Aug 28. The operation was expected to take about three weeks.