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Phuket boat disaster spurs response from Chinese President Xi Jinping

Phuket boat disaster spurs response from Chinese President Xi Jinping

PHUKET: Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on Thailand to ramp up safety for tourists in the wake of the tour boat disaster off Phuket that has claimed at least 33 lives.

By The Phuket News

Saturday 7 July 2018, 01:10PM

Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian (left) listens as Thailand Tourism & Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat (right) explains to the press how the disaster as become an international incident. Photo: PR Dept

Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian (left) listens as Thailand Tourism & Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat (right) explains to the press how the disaster as become an international incident. Photo: PR Dept

The message was delivered by Thailand Tourism & Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat in person at the disaster operations command centre set up at the Phuket Marine Office at Chalong Pier last night (July 6), in the presence of Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian, who had travelled to Phuket to oversee international relations over the incident.

Minister Weerasak explained that Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha had also called on all people involved in any aspect in response to disaster to do their best.

“We will work with police to make sure the tour company is held responsible for any wrong doing leading to the disaster,” Mr Weerasak added.

The Tourism Minister explained that Chinese President Xi Jinping had responded to the incident and had urged Thailand to recover all victims and to do their best in resolving the incident, and thanked the Thai people for their efforts

“He said he hopes that in the future Thailand will have more laws and regulations to give the tourists more safety than this – as well as transport on land, in the air and on the water… everywhere,” he said.

“They hope that in the future we (Thailand and China) will meet and work together to improve the quality of the tourism in Thailand – and care more about the safety and quality of the tours provided, not just focus on the number of tourists,” Mr Weerasak added.

Ambassador Lyu noted, “This incident has shocked the Chinese government very much, and caused much loss. The news has been reported a lot in the Thai and Chinese media.

“The President of China, Xi Jinping, mentioned this case through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Consulate, asking to resolve the incident and to find the missing persons as soon as possible.

“The Prime Minister of China (Li Keqiang) also stressed that urgent steps be taken to care for the family and friends of victims so they can travel to Thailand,” he added.

Mr Weerasak explained that efforts were underway to provide support for family members now arriving to support the victims still living, and to identify their loved ones and reclaim their bodies.

The Phuket Passport Office and Thai Airways International will be instrumental in providing that support, it was explained.

QSI International School Phuket

“We are also now co-operating with phone networks to allow all people directly affected by the disaster to communicate with friends and family members back home for free,” he said, noting that the first families from China were to land in Phuket last night to identify dead family members.

Mr Weerasak recognised the difficulties hospitals were having in gaining the services of people proficient enough in Thai and Chinese to act as translators.

“We are co-operating with the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) for more translators*,” he said.

Mr Weerasak stressed it was critical to provide the best care possible for all tourists affected by the disaster.

He confirmed that the official tally at the time he was speaking, about 8pm last night, was 33 dead and 23 missing.

At a meeting at the disaster command centre earlier yesterday, deputy national police chiefs Gen Chalermkiat Sriworakan and Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul vowed to hold the captain of the stricken boat Phoenix, Somjing Boontham, and the tour company, T.C. Blue Dream Co Ltd, responsible for the calamity.

The Phoenix, had 105 people, including tourists and crew members, on board when it sank close to Koh Hei at around 4pm on Thursday. (See story here.)

Both Gen Chalermkiat and Gen Srivara explained that Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon had publicly apologised for the incident.

Police will investigate why the boat went to sea despite a weather warning of strong wind, they said, adding that they were “sure we will have enough evidence to hold the boat captain and the tour company responsible”.

Details of recovering the remaining bodies and the salvage of the Phoenix were yet to be finalised, but were to be arranged “soon”, it was explained.

* Doctors require Chinese to Thai translators ASAP to assist with attending to 100 Chinese people from the boating tragedy... Needed at Mission Hospital and Vachira Hospital. Please contact Tel 081-9037109 Mr.Adith (คุณ อดิษฐ์)

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vegasbaby | 11 July 2018 - 00:10:51

China needs to prohibit sending their tourists to Thailand for a one year long penalty.  There are plenty of beach resorts around the world that do not murder tourists through careless incompetence.  The only way to fix these problem is to hit  Thais in their pocketbooks or else nothing will improve.

Capt B | 09 July 2018 - 10:48:49

A hot tip for Thai Govt. Marine Departments.
1) Go to the "Australian Maritime Safety Authority" AMSA - gov - au  website.
2) For the most recent updated "Regulations and standards for vessels", go to
   "National Standard for Commercial Vessels".
3) In particular, note "Part C: Design & Construction">"Section C6: Stability".

Capt B | 09 July 2018 - 10:38:42

All advice from the Communist Chinese Government  should be avoided as they have failed to recognize the "International Law Of The Sea Convention".  Next thing you know, they'll be building fake islands in the Andaman Sea.

BigA | 08 July 2018 - 07:19:17

Discover ,5 tourist with 1 lifeguard seems enough  or do you need an baby sitter for every one? Than stay in your pool !!
The boat disaster is an human error from the captain ,perhaps he been told to come back from his Boss or loose his job!

KurtTi | 07 July 2018 - 20:14:17

Kurt is so right.They never care about anything.Promises,promises,promises but no action followed.Chinese must get tired by now.Thanks Kurt for another brilliant comment.

Kurt | 07 July 2018 - 16:43:52

The Thai seem not willing to understand that China long time now calls for prevention, not disaster handling.
The talks between China and Thailand are now at higher levels. Phuket Governor can be dismissed, and left with street cleaning and buddhist ceremonial presence here and there. Help! Can BKK government send someone authority for tourist safety to Phuket. A Authority, please.

Discover Thainess | 07 July 2018 - 14:35:06

There are plenty of laws and regulations, that’s not the problem. As everyone knows, the problem is that no one cares about them and they are never enforced. The only way to force change is for the chinese government to stop chinese people coming until safety is actually taken seriously. Was in Cebu snorkeling last weekend, 1 lifeguard in the water with us per 5 people. Thailand? None.

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