The navy is now focused on rescuing the remaining 23 sailors after HTMS Sukhothai sank during the storm in the Gulf of Thailand off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan on Sunday, spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatpalin said.
On Monday, 31 of the sunken corvette’s complement of 106 sailors and marines were initially reported missing. The number was reduced to 30 after one was later rescued by HTMS Kraburi off Prachuap Khiri Khan, reports the Bangkok Post.
Another seven were found yesterday in the area where the ship went down, with only one still alive, navy chief Adm Choengchai Chomchoengpaet said. He expressed his deepest regret over the casualties and extended his condolences to their families.
“I’d like to express my deepest condolences to all the families of the deceased among the crew of HTMS Sukhothai,” said Adm Choengchai.
Adm Choengchai said a fact-finding probe would be launched, including reports of an insufficient number of life jackets on the ship.
A source said the survivor, a ship inspector, revealed the vessel was unable to anchor off a beach, so it needed to head back to Sattahip.
At that time, a detachment of marines decided to head back there with the ship, increasing the number of crew on board.
This meant that despite there being 70 life jackets available, there were not enough to go around after the ship capsized in the storm, said the source.
The navy chief said His Majesty the King has placed the injured sailors under royal patronage, and Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Krom Phra Srisavangavadhana has provided medicine and other items.
Adm Chonlathit Nawanukhro, the navy’s chief-of-staff, said the bodies were being sent to be formally identified.
He said the navy remains hopeful more survivors will be found.
He also thanked the navies of other countries that had offered to assist in the search for the missing sailors.