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Phuket tour boat disaster: Phoenix salvage starts as Chinese tourism cancellations hit

PHUKET: The mission to recover the last known body from the Phoenix tour boat disaster resumes today (July 13) after efforts proved unsuccessful yesterday.

By The Phuket News

Friday 13 July 2018, 11:10AM

Tourism and Sports Permanent Secretary Pongpanu Svetarundra in Phuket yesterday revealed that Chinese tourist advance bookings in Phuket have been slammed with 10-15% cancellations. Photo: PR Dept

Tourism and Sports Permanent Secretary Pongpanu Svetarundra in Phuket yesterday revealed that Chinese tourist advance bookings in Phuket have been slammed with 10-15% cancellations. Photo: PR Dept

Meanwhile, Tourism and Sports Permanent Secretary Pongpanu Svetarundra in Phuket yesterday (July 12) revealed that that Chinese tourist advance bookings in Phuket have been slammed with 10-15% cancellations.

Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong as Chief of the Disaster Command Centre set up at Chalong Pier explained at a press briefing yesterday that efforts by divers to recover the body from under the Phoenix were called off because of strong wind and waves.

Vice Admiral Somnuk Preampramot, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, based at Cape Panwa, said that he expected, “We would have good news (today) because of nice weather which will allow us to recover the body.”

V/Adm Somnuk noted that the recovery team comprised Royal Thai Navy divers, 10 divers from the Chinese firm Guangzhou Salvage as well as involvement by the Thai Fisheries Department, Marine Department, Marine Police, as well as the “private sector and people”.

Governor Norraphat noted that officials are confident that the body is that of the last missing tourist sought from the disaster after receiving details provided by relatives.

Meanwhile, the body found at Phi Phi Island on Wednesday (July 11, see story here) has been taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital in the hope of confirming that person’s identity, Gov Norraphat added.

At the press briefing yesterday Tourism and Sports Permanent Secretary Mr Pongpanu expressed his condolences to the victims for disaster, and noted the deep impact such an incident can have on Thailand’s – and Phuket’s – tourism industry.

“Chinese tourists are the most important market in Thailand. This incident has had a huge impact, including physically, mentally and economically,” he said.

“Each year, 10 million Chinese tourists come to Thailand and spend more than B500 billion. From this number, about 3mn visit Phuket and spend about B150 billion,” Mr Pngpanu explained.

“Currently, it is unclear whether the number of tourist arrivals will decrease, through there has already been about 10-15% in cancellations of advance bookings,” he added.

New Paths Retreat

“We believe that from the measures that Thailand has rushed to introduce right now will restore confidence quickly,” he said.

Mr Pongpanu explained that the government has also set up a fund to expedite compensation to the survivors and families of the victims.

“The total fund amount in B64mn, to pay B1mn for each death, cover medical expenses of up to B500,000 for each person, and B20,000 to each person for the mental harm done. Up To B20,000 per person will be paid for any extra travel expenses incurred,” he said.

Under the mandatory insurance for tourism businesses, “each person” will recive B1mn compensation, and the Marine Department under its regulations to pay a further B100,000 “per person”, he added.

Families of six bodies recovered had already received the compensation, Mr Pongpanu confirmed.

According to officials, the Phoenix disaster claimed 47 lives, with 42 people surviving the ordeal.

All 46 of the bodies recovered have been identified, officials reported this morning.

In accordance with relatives’ wishes, 20 of the bodies have been cremated at ceremonies in Phuket, and seven bodies have been taken “back to their home country” for funeral services there.

As of yesterday, officials reported that only one survivor remained in hospital care.



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malczx7r | 14 July 2018 - 11:50:55

They talk as though it's a great thing to pay out compensation, I'm sure the families would rahther have their realtives alive.  Al of which could have happened had safety been number 1 priority as always  spouted by the officials!

Christy Sweet | 14 July 2018 - 08:48:52

Some time ago, China threatened to impose a ban on travel to Phuket- wonder why that never happened. 

ematt | 13 July 2018 - 18:57:48

Re: "maybe us expats should leave too..." Yes! Go now!

BenPendejo | 13 July 2018 - 16:46:55

Wow...they speak as if about $35,000 per death is fair compensation. It isn't. I really hope the Chinese have legal recourse with a class action lawsuit for negligence leading to the wrongful death of 47 people that came here to have fun. Instead, they were left on a crappy boat driven by a fool of a captain, that ultimately abandoned ship to save his own ass, and left all those tourists to di...

KurtTi | 13 July 2018 - 16:34:35

Maybe not only tourists should stay away from this island,maybe us expats should leave too.Either to other safe destinations likeSingapore where we are welcome or back to our home country.This country isn"t worth to receive our money anymore.Nothing will ever change ,as they will never listen to us.Thailand will stay smart 0.1.

Kurt | 13 July 2018 - 15:55:58

Was it not decided a while ago that boat captains must provide thai authorities a passengerlist before departing?
And thai authorities check before departure or the number of passenger not exceed the number mentioned on the ships license?

Pauly44 | 13 July 2018 - 12:35:09

Totally agree, this little island has gotten too big for it's boots due to greed, high time for a reality check.

Discover Thainess | 13 July 2018 - 11:40:36

I hope the number of tourists does decline quickly and massively for an inner of reasons, but mainly the numbers are far too high and infrastructure can’t cope, and secondly to show the thai tourist industry that it needs to up its game in many areas, not only safety. Only when the money dries up this will start to happen. As per Boracay, phuket needs a break. 

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