The twin-hulled fibreglass tour boat BBC Lion 9 picked up the 20 tourists, all from the Middle East, from Laem Sai Pier in Pa Khlok, Thalang, on Phuket’s northeast coast, to take them on a day trip to Ao Maan, in Baan Yan Saba, in Moo 4, Khlong Khian, Takua Thung, Phang Nga.
Initial witness reports placed the incident at Koh Lawa, merely 3.2 kilometres northeast of Laem Khat on Phuket’s northeast coast. Koh Lawa is within Khlong Khian Subdistrict.
The captain of the boat, Wanchart Oonkhao, reported that the boat had stopped at the bay to allow the tourists to relax and swim.
All the tourists were in the water except for one child when there were three distinct explosions on the boat, he said.
With all tourists safely off the boat, Mr Wanchart moved it closer to shore, but was forced to abandon the boat as the flames completely destroyed the vessel.
All 20 tourists were reported to be safe and had been picked up by another boat operating on the same tour schedule, the PR Dept reported.
However, the boat’s mechanic, Soongiblee Haramchai, 32, was injured in the incident and taken to Thalang Hospital.
Marine Department officials are investigating the incident, The Phuket News has been told.