Meanwhile, the only person injured in the fire, the boat’s mechanic, Soongiblee Haramchai, 32, is recovering from his injuries, officials report.
Mr Soongiblee suffered burns to 50% of his body in the fire. He was taken to Thalang Hospital, where he is receiving treatment for his burns.
His condition is improving after he underwent an operation, but his burns still need close attention, officials noted.
The twin-hulled fibreglass tour boat BBC Lion 9 picked up 19 tourists, 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 in Phang Nga.
The 19 tourists were confirmed as 12 French, four South African, two Spanish and one American.
The captain of the boat, Wanchart Oonkhao, reported the incident at Khlok Kloy Police Station in Phang Nga yesterday.
He explained 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. (See story here.)
According to a report by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department, investigators from the Phuket Marine Office are to question Mr Wanchart today (Aug 14).
Efforts to recover the charred remains of the hull – as the fire burnt the boat down to the waterline – are also to begin today.
Ramet Wongdom, who was the tour guide on board the boat at the time of the incident, and others are also to be questioned.
The report did not name the owner of the boat or the company that operates tours on it, but did confirm that the Ministry of Tourism & Sports ‘Tourist Assistance Centre’ (TAC) had been ordered to investigate the tourism business registration of the “boat’s company”.
The Phuket branch of the Tourism Business and Guide Registration Office is to invite representatives from the tour company to answer questions about the incident “soon”, the report added.
The Phuket Provincial Office of the Ministry of Tourism & Sports has also ordered the officers from the Tourist Assistance Centre to support and help tourists, the report noted, adding that the Phuket office of the Consumer Protection Board is to ensure that compensation from the covering insurance company, Thai Patthana Insurance, is upheld
Thai Patthana Insurance is already providing support for Mr Soongiblee’s medical treatment, the report said.