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Missing fishing crew home safe

PHUKET: The Thai captain and his three Myanmar crewmen rescued from their fishing boat that had been out of contact for more than three weeks are healthy and recovering from fatigue well at Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town.

By The Phuket News

Tuesday 14 February 2023, 12:03PM

The Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, based at Cape Panwa, confirmed sighting of the boat, the Sor Sakulphet, some 40 nautical miles west of Phuket yesterday (Feb 13).

A helicopter was dispatched, followed by two Navy boats to render assistance. Private boats were asked to render assistance until the Navy vessels arrived, explained Rear Admiral Puchong Rodnikorn, of the Third Area Command.

The captain and crew were brought back to Phuket for medical care, while the Sor Sakulphet was towed back to the fishing port area on Phuket’s east coast, he added.

“All the people on the boat are safe. The physical condition of those rescued is still healthy and strong,” R/Adm Puchong said.

The Sor Sakulphet, measuring only three meters wide and 10 meters long, departed Phuket Fishing Pier on Jan 19. 

The boat was reported to be heading out to fish some 120 nautical miles southwest of Phuket. However, the boat had been out of contact since it left port.

Rung Khamluewong, the 44-year-old captain of the Sor Sakulphet, yesterday explained that a gear cable broke, damaging the engine, on Jan 26, leaving the boat adrift.

“The engine oil was completely drained,” he said.

The radio was also not functioning, he added

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For the next 10 days the crew ate what food they still had on board, and when that ran out they started eating raw fish they had caught as their cooking gas had also run out.

“As for drinking water, we had to share a little bit among each person because we are afraid that the water would run out,” Mr Rung said.

While adrift, a sailboat with three foreigners on board came alongside. “They gave us 15 liters of fuel in case we could get the engine working again,” Mr Rung said.

“After many days, we saw an Indonesian fishing boat, but we did not want them coming on board in case they were thieves,” he added.

However, the Indonesian crew gave their fellow sailors rice, water, oil and battery chargers for the boat engine, and fixed the gear cables to support the boat enough to get underway again, Mr Rung explained.

The repairs lasted eight days, then the gear cable broke again, leaving the hapless Sor Sakulphet and its crew adrift again.

“We started thinking of our wives and children,” Mr Rung said yesterday.

That period adrift lasted a further five days, until the Sor Sakulphet was spotted yesterday, he added.

“Thank you for coming to help, Mr Rung said.

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Kurt | 15 February 2023 - 09:42:11

What a serious Thai drama. Did the sailboat with 3 foreigners not made a call to Indonesian/Malaysian/Thai Coastguards for this vessel in distress? With all this happening the question comes up: Are Thai marine department skilled/sufficient in checking seaworthnes of this kind of vessels? Was the boat complete certified?

JohnC | 15 February 2023 - 09:18:07

Should have sunk that unseaworthy PoS there and then after rescuing the crew. Talk about putting your own safety at risk. 120 miles out to sea was too far for this poor excuse for a boat.


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